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Other-Worldly and Alternative Link Building Strategies – Part I

Good day, Kaiser the Sage readers!

Holy shit, I’m proud to be here!

(Looks at scores of previously-pleased link-building faces in the crowd.)

First, let’s engage, shall we?  Please answer the following.

True or False – “People often expect too much of me.”

You don’t have to share your answer out loud.

One’s answer may reflect deeper cognitive habits and psychological routines, which procure an ongoing outlook.

This, from a recent WSJ article:

“This question, from the California Psychological Inventory, indicates a test taker’s “conceptual fluency,” or ability to understand complex concepts, says Rich Thompson, director of research at test publisher CPP Inc. Someone who answers “True” is likely to be easily overwhelmed and may not believe in his or her own talent.”

I believe in you.

We all have limitless creativity; don’t begin thinking down an exhaustive path.  “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” and, “There is no spoon.”

I don’t allow outer world expectation and demand affect me too much.  I retreat into my creativity, tapping into a world of pure imagination.

It all started in the early 1980’s, where young @content_muse was busily at work, procuring his other-worldly creativity with the aid of He-Man, Voltron, and GI Joe toys…

The child-man spent his childhood blending fantasy with reality.

Kids, big and small, like to exercise and conduct creativity; in best moments, dreamers link reverie to reality.  Check this child-like, dreamed machine.

Some visionary, Da Vinci, dreamed of a flying machine in the 15th century.

OH: “Leo, stop playing with your drawing toys, and come help your mother.”

We fast forward to modern-day link building, a place where an aged-by-numbers Anthony engineers out-of-this-realm link building opportunities.

I’ll do my best to concoct an everlasting gobstopper of  new flavor for your building taste buds.

Let’s take a boat ride to the bizarre, inquiring, “How would @content_muse build links?” #hwCMbl

Search for Links to Social Media Accounts

Within many verticals, especially since the advent of ‘content marketing,’ scores of brand-related real estate exists.

Often, authors and curators link to peoples’ social media accounts rather than a particular blog post or authors’ domains.  Let’s take a look at links going to my @content_muse Twitter handle to tickle curiosity.

35 separate domains link to the Twitter handle.  If we wanted to seek future guest posting opportunities, we would pay attention to who/what publications were kind enough to lend a link to social handles and accounts.

Let’s consider fielding a future guest appearance for James Agate, doing as we did above, focusing on Agate’s Twitter handle.

We identify unfounded guest opportunities for Agate perusing the 41 domains linking to his Twitter handle.

We begin perusing URLs with decent authority, engagement, and solidified interest.

Some links are ancillary, originating from past guest posts.  However, let’s devote time in finding unique URLs where James has not yet authored.

We notice authors from SEOworkers.com shared Agate’s tweets.

We may use this observation for a ‘warmer’ initial point of contact,  asking John and crew for a guest opportunity.

As an endeavor of outreach, I may compose the following:

Dear John,

I notice you and the SEOworkers team appreciate the shares and work of James Agate and others in the online marketing space, noticing your curation of tweets from your domain (this particular one on guest posting.)

http://tweets.seoworkers.com/topics/guest-post

James Agate enjoys writing about guest posting, and, being you and team champion his shares and views…

I welcome in-house PR and link builders do the same for CEOs and clients who are active guest authors.

SEOmoz recently released its newest tool, the Fresh Web Explorer.  Bill Sebald of Greenlane SEO finds low-hanging link opportunities, perusing recent mentions of brands and personalities in his post.  Thanks for sharing, #Sebald

Let’s dock for a second and gather our link thoughts.

Acidre Actionable

  • Identify incoming links to author social media accounts. (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus)
  • Use Open Site Explorer, Fresh Web Explorer, and old-fashioned search operators for link building. Try your own derivation of the following:link:twitter.com/content_muse -twitter.com
  • Inquire about a guest post (Or, if the webmaster linked to a social account, ask if they would kindly ALSO include a link to a brand-related URL.)

Pitch Video Guest Posts and Complement Clips

I recently interviewed Dan Shure for LinkBuilding.TV.  Of course, you’ll want to watch the entire thing, but pay special attention to the last couple minutes, where Shure and I suggest ‘pitching guest video content.’  (hint..hint)

Video, at the moment, is a ‘purple dinosaur’ (I trademarked the term.  You can’t have it.) of the SERPs, with schema markups making them more noticeable.

“Since adding video, the conversion rate for this keyword has gone up 399.58% resulting in an increase in gross profit of $978.73 in a six month period for just this keyword.” – John-Henry Scherck

That’s J.H.’s explanation of video influence on SERPs, regarding leveraged online marketing efforts in the medical vertical on behalf of a SEER client.

SERPs are at times void of rhyme and reason; Dr. Pete does a good job of keeping an eye atop the SERP watchtower.

I’m a bit curious as to the added click-through power of video.  I would like to leverage guest videos to engineer more incoming links.

Let’s go to Inbound.org, taking a look at all-time popular posts related a particular topic.   Again, let’s imagine we’re searching for guest opportunities for James Agate, an author often lending insight upon guest blogging.

We’ll peruse the most-beloved posts on the topic.

Next, we’ll take note of authors, publications, and specific information/angles of guest posting.  We can take two, separate approaches at this point – ultimately, we want to urge James to communicate with video rather than text

For one, let’s augment existing content; searching within popular published posts, we’ll contact webmasters in the following manner:

(Pitches will mention Agate’s legacy on the topic and inquire of interest in having James shoot a video to complement existing text.)

Dear [NAME],

I noticed the great reception of your piece on guest posting.  James Agate regularly offers insight to business owners on how to best leverage guest posting for digital advancement.

Rather than add text to your already outstanding content, we thought it would be great for readers and the URL’s presence in the SERs to add video to the existing content.  James would like to shoot a video, offering insight…

Alternatively, we can take the traditional route in asking for a guest post as we did in the first section above, but rather than complementing existing text, we’ll offer video content rather than text.

Remember, marketing is about communication.

Don’t limit online messages; there’s more than one way to communicate.

Let’s take this all in.

“Cat videos increase your ability to meme” – Catt Mutts

Acidre Actionable

  • Use search operators, Inbound.org, or other manner of locating well-received posts.
  • Identify a topic or niche your CEO or client can provide valuable content upon.
  • Pitch either a video complement to existing content or offer to engineer a new piece of video content for the intended hosting URL.

OH: “content_muse, have you pitched mentioned video segments?”

I’m glad you ask.  Yes, actually, I lent video insight on the topic of branding to Kaiser the Sage readers already. 🙂  Look for my newly-included video within the post!

Introduce and Engineer Multi-Part Posts

How many of you out there can’t wait for the next Kaiser the Sage post, like you HAVE to feast your eyes on upcoming link-building goodies straight out the Acidre oven?

It’s understood; Jason has built a readership, fans, much like a number of television series throughout history.

Cliffhangers were made by marketers; savvy marketers want us to come back for the conclusion.  A New Yorker article describes the power of the cliffhanger.

“The idea that viewers would want to watch—and rewatch—a television series in strict chronology and collectively document their discoveries with a group of strangers was once laughable, but is now mainstream,” Mittell writes in “Complex TV.” Television was no longer an ephemeral experience, to be watched and discarded: it could be collected, shared, and analyzed.

Readers, you’re within the third section of this post, likely well invested in the content journey at this point.

What if I left you hanging here (temporarily), sending you to another URL for additional tips?

Taking things a step further, one could offer a longer guest post, extending insight to include another URL.  This would engender a link in the author profile box, but also begetting another link to a deeper, brand-related page.

Television and web publishers host multi-part series often, sometimes introducing new authors.

Rather than introduce a new author on the same URL, a two-part post introduces a new URL.  For example, if an author writes on a popular topic, such as image marketing, they may solidify links on (at least) two separate domains.

Ann Smarty recognized my commitment to image search in one of her recent articles.  Taking my own advice above, I may approach Ann and the Internet Marketing Ninjas for a post on the topic.

One guest post is just a tactic and not a strategy (right?); a series of posts (on the same topic) is better aligned with an ongoing strategy.

Acidre Actionable

  • Brainstorm broad topics associated with your CEO or client, segmenting the broad into more specific points of conversation.
  • During your next outreach campaign, identify several potential suitors.
  • Organize and arrange your ‘guest series’ on multiple hosted domains, or leverage your own URL as a hosting domain, fielding links from preceding series hosts.

Here is an example:

Dear SEOmoz,

We at Skyrocket notice James’ post on guest-post outreach is well revered over one year later.  James is planning on penning a follow-up to the post, hosting Part II on our blog..

We’d love to interlink the pieces for readership UX and continuity of the subject.  Would you be willing to…

Make Learning More Possible

What warrants an incoming link?  Great content? A handy tool?  A convenient resource?

We must be worthy of a link.  How do you we gain attention to place us in contention of being worthy?

Maybe rather than getting, we shall focus on giving, putting the circular wheel of reciprocity into action.

An Italian friend of mine, Giuseppe Pastore, once sent an email suggestion; I thought it was an incredible idea.

Giuseppe understands marketing; Moreover, he observes my niche of marketing is an international enterprise.

I have potential clients and peers across the globe (SEOs in different area codes so to speak).

I have potential relationships, spanning all continents.

What about you and your clients?

Where in the world are your followers?

Could you lend a helping hand, translating content?

Yes, Google Translate is available, but I believe many nuances and vivacity of respective languages are lost in translations.

Like providing a guest post above (which offers value), how could we offer value to our international friends?

Link builder, link builder, link me a match to a well-known marketer…

How about Seth Godin?

Sure, we’d all love a link from a well-seasoned, marketing guru, right?

But, that’s a tall order.  How can we manipulate Godin to link to us?  Maybe manipulate isn’t the correct train of thought; shouldn’t we do something for him, create value?

Alessio enjoyed Seth’s content in English.  Being Italian, Alessio made a connection, linking the idea of sharing the content with other Italians in their native language, making information more available, capisce?

Acidre Actionable

  • Consider this list of international domains.
  • Use Followerwonk or another social-media measurement tool, identifying potential brand friends in international area codes.
  • Can we approach brands/personalities, helping them translate information to another language, potentially exposing both parties to newer markets while inviting opportunity for incoming links of translating appreciation?

Decompression and Reevaluation

…Our ride is coming to a close.  I promise to give more tours in the near future – this is just part one. (That was one of my suggestions, right?)

In the first section, we notice mentions and existing links to social media handles and accounts.  Returning the expression of interest, we’ll seek future guest posting and relationship-building opportunities.

In the second, we introduce video into our marketing mix, contributing to existing content, or originating completely new content, using video as a means of expression and connection rather than written text.

Next, we realized digital content, like traditional content of television, can be offered in a serial fashion.  We can hook our consumers, or get them to subscribe to later iterations, especially when we introduce a serial frame (ex. expressing ‘Part 1’ in a title, or leaving a trail of URLs for them to follow)

Lastly, we understand link building is a means to an end, which offers value.  We get when we give.  Therefore, translating existing content into another language is way to disseminate knowledge, making it more available, getting more people involved.

UPDATE: Excited for more? Check out the 2nd part here: Other-Worldly & Alternative Link Building – Part II

10 Types of Links that Really Matter and How to Get them

Types of Links:

Links will always be important in digital marketing (and will definitely remain as an important element of the web). It won’t ever be devalued as a mean to market a website, because links simply move people across places over the web.

There are so many methods that can be used to build links, but there are only a few that can really make an impact and help brands achieve their business goals (awareness and/or revenue more often than not).

Links that really matter these days are links that can hit businesses’ bottom line, as very well explained by Paddy on his recent post on SEOmoz.

It’s imperative to be smart when it comes to link acquisition campaigns to really add value to your client’s business and to truly take more steps ahead of their competitors.

And in order to accomplish that, you’ll need to start focusing on high-value tactics to get maximum results. Because at the end of the day, results will always be more important than the volume of links you have acquired for your client.

So how would you do that? Try applying the 80/20 principle in choosing the strategies you implement. Think and aim higher for the links you try to acquire, for them to meet what your client actually needs.

Links that are intended for traffic generation, sales/conversions and branding serve as strong signals that search engines can use to reward you with better search rankings.

Great results will always be existent if you embrace that principle and approach link building with that mindset.

So in this post, I’ll be covering the kinds of links that are capable of touching all these 4 points (traffic, conversions, branding and rankings) and the marketing activities and processes that will help you get them.

Contextual and Editorial Links

I’ve written a post 2 weeks ago about how to get contextual links (and 2 years ago about getting editorial links), which explain why they are so powerful.

Links placed within the body of a content benefits sites in so many ways, given that it’s one of the strongest signals around that search engines use to assess sites’ topical relevance, popularity and authority.

editorial

Notable advantages of having been featured on other publications/blogs’ content are:

  • It can send qualified traffic, since the link is highly perceptible to readers.
  • Passes higher amount of link value and helps improve domain authority, which in turn can influence the site’s overall search rankings.
  • Brand impression, which also affect or help increase conversions, especially if your brand has been cited by trusted content publishers.

How to get them:

    • Creating useful content is just the start (whether its text, interactive or tools), as the process of getting natural in-content links relies on your content promotion strategies (using outreach, social media and link marketing).
    • Invest on developing evergreen content assets that are specifically tailored for researchers and customers. This type of content often performs well in search results, especially for competitive  terms, which allows the content to continuously attract more possible linkers to it.
    • Branding through providing exceptional products/services and exemplifying expertise through the brand’s content marketing efforts to build mind share.
    • Build relationships with your readers and with other content publishers in your online space. This can extremely help improve the sharing process of your content and in attracting more linkers to your site.
    • Bring more traffic to your content. The more visitors you get, the higher chances of getting potential linkers to your content. Check out these 50 traffic tips for content from Informly.

 

Courtesy of: WPCurve

 

Links from Ranking Webpages

Getting links from pages that are already ranking on search results for both short and long tail queries matter a lot for so many reasons. But the first reason that really comes into mind is because, in a way, they are already considered as trusted sources by Google.

Why these linking pages matter?:

  • They are able to get constant traffic (through search), which means it will also continuously send traffic to the pages they are linking to.
  • The topical relevance of the content, based on the keywords they are ranking for, adds more value to the link. And thus may help in improving the linked pages’ search ranking.
  • Content relevance will also be a key factor in attracting potential leads to the link’s destination, which means the link can help drive conversions as well.
  • Scalable branding, given that you’re getting continuous brand impressions from the new visitors that the page is constantly generating.

How to get them:

Join popular discussions in your online space (popular blog posts, forum threads, discussions on Q&A sites like Quora and/or online communities like News Hacker, Reddit and Inbound.org).

Popular discussions are more apt to be more visible on search results (especially for long-tails), since they contain most of the signals that search engines look for when ranking pages.

Adding value to these discussions and making sure that your contribution will standout will help you entice more of their incoming visitors to check out your site.

comments

Seed content on high authority UGC and document sharing sites (like Slideshare, Youtube, Pinterest, etc…). These sites have strong search share, which means your content hosted on these sites have better chances of ranking for your targeted industry terms.

You’ll be able to absorb continual traffic and build brand awareness, as your content on these sites get search-driven traffic.

Guest blog on authority sites in your field. Use some of your targeted keywords when contributing content on other publications in your industry, to get long-term value from your guest posts.

Get links from resources and/links pages that are already ranking for industry terms using the broken link building technique.
brokenlinksample

Basically, there are 2 ways to get links from pages that have good search rankings:

  • Add value to already existing pages with high potentials of ranking better (or sustaining its rankings) on search results.
  • Create pages on other authoritative domains with links to your site that will gain its own search rankings.

Links from Authentic Reviews

Links from positive online reviews are definitely one of the most sought after marketing opportunities by any business that offers products/services.

Why does it matter?

  • Online reviews can send new customers.
  • Authentic reviews from users/consumers help strengthen a business’ brand. It can also help maintain the site’s reputation on its branded search results.
  • They can help improve the site’s overall search rankings, based on the sentiments and volume of positive feedbacks that the site/brand is receiving from other websites/blogs.

reviews

How to get them:

  • Blogger outreach on a personal level – to actually get experiential reviews. Dan Cristo wrote an excellent post on how to get more reviews of your products 2 years ago, and you might want to check that one out.
  • Create an affiliate program or a referral commission system to attract more bloggers in reviewing your product or services. Offer this as a value proposition when reaching out to bloggers (give higher commission rates to authority bloggers in your industry).
  • Provide great products and services, or be exceptionally great with customer service (think Zappos). This can extremely help you get voluntary online reviews of your products/services. You can also offer freebies (promo codes, discounts, etc…) to customers who own blogs or have strong following on social networks. That might also increase the chances of getting links from them.

Links from Strong Social Brand Pages

Integrating content strategy with social media is a very effective approach in link building. Many people discover great content through social sharing, and that’s why it’s very vital to have strong social brand pages on social platforms where your target audience is.

Why does it matter?

  • Brand pages on social platforms – like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and many more –allow you to generate traffic every time you promote both new and old content from your site.
  • It’s an efficient channel where you can build relationships with your audience/followers, which can also result to more link opportunities, social shares and traffic.
  • Sends out massive brand signals to both users and search engines – through the amount of followers, activity and interactions.
  • Search engines use these external brand pages as signals to determine authority, which may also add weight to your site’s search rankings.

brand pages

How to build a strong following base for your social brand pages:

  • Let content drive your social media campaigns, by pushing out useful content on a regular basis and promoting them on social networks.
  • Interact with the people who are sharing your content to get them to follow you.
  • Share other influencers’ works to engage as well as to attract them in seeing your own works. Sharing useful stuff created by other brands/blogs is also a great way to nurture your followers.
  • Make your social sharing buttons very visible on your site’s content to enhance their sharing rate.
  • Promote your social media profiles on your site to encourage your visitors/readers to follow you. You can also cross promote your brand pages using the social networks where you already have built a strong following base.

Interview Links

Interviews can be very powerful as a marketing arsenal. I’ve received ton of client inquiries over the past years just because of this marketing method, wherein many have found my business through these interviews (even from group interviews/crowdsourced content).

Why does it matter?

  • The link that will be acquired is solely about you, which means it can pass higher link value to your site.
  • It helps build up your brand or personal brand as an expert in the field, which can indirectly increase conversions based on the perceived value of the brand.
    interview1
  • Can help maintain good branded search results (online reputation management).
    interviews

How to get them:

  • Pitch yourself or your client to be interviewed by bloggers who host interviews on their blogs (use Google Search – ex. “interview + someone in your niche”).
  • Create a Press page to let your visitors/readers know that you’re open for interviews.
  • Be active in content marketing. Because the more you push out useful and expertly made content, the more people will want to know more about you and with what you can share to them.

Newsletter Links

One of my blog posts last month got featured on SEOmoz’s newsletter 2 weeks ago.

newsletter

Knowing that their Moz Top 10 newsletter series has thousands of subscribers, getting viral traffic was almost certain. My blog received 7,000+ hits through that single link.

visits

Why does it matter?

  • Traffic and more brand impressions, obviously.
  • The post that was featured also acquired lots of natural links from some of their subscribers (so it did become a successful link bait).
  • Conversions. I received 15+ client inquiries after.

How to get them:

  • Great content and a solid content promotion strategy are the key elements to get your content out there (and be perhaps fetched by other blogs that have huge email newsletter subscribers).
  • Find blogs that have huge email lists, and pitch to have your content be featured on their newsletter (can be paid placement or reciprocate by featuring them as well on your newsletter).
  • Grow your own list to create a replicable process in driving huge traffic to your site. Here’s a great guide on building an email list.

Recurring Links from regular contributions (columns)

I strongly believe that this method is the future of scalable and effective link building, content marketing and online branding, which I will be explaining why shortly.

But before that, I’ll first give an example. Julie Joyce is one of the most respected link builders in the industry. She’s also a regular contributor/columnist on these sites:

juliejoyce

Why does it matter?

  • Branding. It’s easier to demonstrate expertise when you’re regularly seen on high-traffic publications.
  • You can almost always send many qualified traffic to your site, when you regularly publish content on high authority sites (like the ones mentioned above).
  • It passes trust signals and high link value down back to your site, which can help improve your site’s domain authority and ability to convert traffic.
  • Having a solid author portfolio on trusted publications will eventually boost your Author Rank.

How to get them:

  • Search for your industry’s top online publications (that have high traffic and high domain authority). Apply to become a regular contributor on their site. It’s important to make yourself known first by providing high quality content on your site that are relevant to their audience.
  • If you’ve been into guest blogging, track the sites that have sent good traffic and conversions to your site. Send more content to their site/blog and become a stable content partner for them.
  • Implement authorship markups on your content contributions (if in case they aren’t implementing it yet, start suggesting it).

Constantly creating useful content on your site and promoting them effectively can also lead to getting invitations to become a contributor on larger sites. For instance, I was invited before to become a columnist on Technorati for that very reason.

.Edu and .Gov links

Links from .edu and .gov sites are known to be authoritative, since these domains are highly trusted by search engines.

Why do they matter?

  • These links pass authority and trust, and can influence your site’s ability to rank on SERPs.

How to get them:

  • Nick Bernard from Portent wrote an extensive post last year that details 7 different ways to get .edu links – from sponsorships, posting job openings, offering scholarships and 4 other more. I highly recommend reading that post.
  • Using the broken link building method through .edu and .gov resources pages can also be a viable technique to get links from them. But it’s important to really offer a resourceful content worth linking to, especially for them, to make that acquisition happen.
  • I’m currently testing this method (and I’ll definitely share the results in the next few weeks). Interview professors and publish it on your blog. Choose topics that have high potentials of getting referenced to by their sites/students/faculty.

Press Coverage

Press mentions are definitely a powerful way to make a brand look more amazing to its target audience. It’s also a great way for a brand or a product to be discovered by people.

press mentions

Coverage like that – can simply result to this:

press2

That’s why having a great product and a good marketing strategy is a force to reckon with.

Why does it matter?

  • Getting featured on popular news sites can generate viral traffic.
  • The surge in traffic can lead to user sign ups, sales and/or conversions.
  • Getting viral through press mentions can also result to more link opportunities, as other news sites and blogs may also start writing about your brand.
  • It will also be easier for you to pitch on other publications for coverage, since you’ve already been featured on an authority news site.
  • The link acquired offers high SEO value, based on trust, authority and context of the link source.
  • Definitely good for branding.

How to get them:

Don’t be afraid to pitch, if you have something that’s really newsworthy.

Natural Links from Online Discussions

This is quite similar with how you can get contextual links. The only difference is that they are placed within the discussions (comment threads).

qa

Why does it matter?

  • Elevates your brand, as you are being endorsed by other people (which may also lead to better conversions).
  • Can draw in click-through traffic to your site.
  • Sends trust signals, which is a factor that can slightly impact your search rankings.

How to get them:

  • Be active with your content marketing activities. Keep on publishing content that people can use as a resource. Because your readers will use them sooner or later when conversing with other people in your online community.
  • Build relationships with your readers, especially with those who actively participate on other popular blogs’ discussions or industry forums/communities.
  • Focus on providing solutions to common problems in your industry. Your readers/followers/peers will always refer you when they encounter questions related to the solutions you’re offering.

Bonus:  How to Earn Visibility and Links

I just want to share this awesome slide presentation by Kevin Gibbons on using content marketing to get higher visibility and more links.

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

Need link building help? Hire us.

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How to Consistently Build 40+ Contextual Links Every Month

What is a contextual link?

A contextual link is a type of link that’s usually found within the body of content and is in context with the idea surrounding the link. It can be both natural (voluntary links from other websites – ex: link bait) and artificial (manually built – ex: one of your guest posts that links back to your blog/content).

Acquiring links is a vital process in online marketing, as the practice benefits a site in so many ways, such as in building online brand presence, driving targeted traffic/leads and in getting better search ranking positions.

But this belief has somehow led many to focus on the wrong side of the practice.

Link building is a byproduct of the collective efforts and initiatives that a brand/business implements to promote and make itself more known to its target audience/customers. Elements that impact link building positively may include the following:

  • Product development
  • Content and business assets
  • USP and Online Branding
  • Offline Branding (events)
  • Relationships

Contextual link building requires hard work. It’s all about earning the links, not just building them. Because if your product or service is really good, people will certainly talk about you and definitely share it with other people who might need your business.

Build something genuinely worth linking to, whether it’s your products, service, the content you produce or the opinions you share with your industry and peers. It all matters, because they can all result to hard-earned links.

Factors that make contextual link building easier (Autopilot)

Chain of online marketing activities causes a site to become a link magnet. Invest on implementing actions that can help alleviate your site’s visibility through various channels (I believe this list can help).

Because the more people find your content, the higher chances of getting natural linkers to your blog. Below are some of the most important factors that allowed me to consistently attract links to my blog.

Consistency in content development

Being consistent in regularly publishing new content on a blog is hard, especially if you have many other things to do. In my case, I try to publish a new post every week.

I always make sure that every post that I launch will be useful to my current and future readers, and that’s why I mostly focus on creating evergreen content. I treat every post as a business asset that will not just send me ton of links, but potential clients as well.

This also allowed me to grow and have a continual increase in readership on my blog, wherein new readers could be future linkers.

So if a single content can acquire natural links from at least 10 unique linking domains (on an average) on its entire lifetime, and you publish 4 new posts every month, then you’re already able to build 40 links in a month (I’ll share some samples on the latter part of this post).

Content promotion strategies

Creating content is just the initial phase, because they will never move on their own without promotion. There are many ways to promote your content (you can check out this and this for extensive tips).

Content that you don’t promote is content that you shouldn’t have writtenLisa Barone

Making sure that your content really offers value to your readers, community and to your industry will make it easier for you to promote your content, and of course get links to them.

Content promotion is very significant in scaling your contextual link building, as it gives birth to places where people can find your content. This can actually influence how your content can acquire more natural links in the future.

Social Media

Having a strong following base on different social platforms can help get more eyeballs to your content. The multiplier effect of social sharing is very capable of introducing your content to new readers, who might use your content as a reference in their future works.

How to build a strong following base on social networks:

  • Continuously produce great and shareable content.
  • Make it easy for your readers to share and follow you on social networks (use social buttons as a call-to-action on your posts).
  • Build or join conversations on social networks where your target audience is.
  • Share others’ content and let them know about it, particularly individuals who have substantial followers in your niche.
  • Thank the people sharing your content.
  • Build alliances.

Optimize content for search

The best way to really scale your link building is by ensuring that your content will still be found by people even it has already been months after publishing the post.

Content publishers use search engines, especially when they do research for their own content. That’s why optimizing your content to rank better on search results for informational queries is important, to enhance link attraction to your content.

Having so many evergreen content published on my blog helped me to continuously attract lots of new contextual links to my site almost every month.

Absorbing traffic from other communities

2 ½ years ago, when I started blogging, this was the only link building tactic on my arsenal. My main goal back then was just to lead new readers back to my blog through participating on relevant discussions (on other blogs and forums).

That paid off. Because I was able to build relationships with other bloggers and I also get click-through traffic from the blog comments and forum contributions I made almost every day on my first 3 months of blogging (and some of them are still sending new readers to my blog until now).

If you’re providing great stuff on your site that people can really get value from, then this strategy will certainly be a good fit for you.

Find communities that have strong interactions in your space and start getting involved. For instance, I used to be active on Warrior Forum when I was just starting, but now you’ll find me more often on Inbound.org. Both communities are great in sending traffic/readers.

Being active on other industry blogs, forums and community websites is also a great way to build relationships and to strengthen your social following. These relationships will help semi-automate the social sharing process for your content marketing efforts.

Trust signals

Making it evident for readers that you’re hosting credible content on your site is an important element to entice linkers to using your content as a reference.

These signals may come in form of social proof, page layout (appealing design), visuals (images, videos, graphs, etc…) and readers’ comments.

Getting contextual links

Combining all the factors/efforts mentioned above will make it easier for you to get the links you deserve. Links that will get you qualified traffic and will genuinely help you achieve better search rankings.

It takes time and hard work to drive hundreds of high quality links to a site every month, and without actually building them. But no one is saying that it’s impossible.  Because hard work always pays off.

So in this part of the post, I’ll just share some of the links that this blog has naturally acquired this past month, including the factors that helped made the natural link acquisition possible.

Brand mentions

brand mention

I got a few brand mentions from other blogs last month (but sorry, I can’t include or link to the other 8 that I’ve found), below are some samples:

Why I got the link:

  • Because of the blog’s already established brand through continuously providing useful content.
  • Most of the people who mentioned my personal brand on their posts were social followers (and perhaps regular readers, except for Mark, who I work with at Xight).
  • I also got mentions from industry peers (like Moosa and Chris) – relationships!

Referential links

referential

I’ve got plenty of this type of contextual/natural link last month (from articles, other people’s blog comments and forum threads – such as this, this and this). Here are other samples:

Why I got the link:

  • Through search. Most of the posts that have been used as a reference were already months – if not years – old. There’s a high probability that some of them researched the topic using search engines and fortunately landed on my old posts (and used them as a resource).

Roundup links

roundup

3 posts from last month were also featured on different blogs that do weekly/monthly roundups (there were also other non-English blogs that featured my recent posts). Here are a few samples.

Why I got the link:

  • Social sharing. I believe that the majority of these curators found my recently published content through social networks and from my peers who have shared the content.
  • Relationships. Steve is an amazing curator!

The total number of contextual links that I was able to track for last month’s new links is 44 (from both high and low DA sites, and excluding the links from content scrapers) – close enough to reach 50+ (if only I’ve done outreach, right?).

Tracking natural links

I’m not sure if I was able to track all the new links to my blog last month. There are a lot of tools that can be used to monitor new incoming links to a site, though I found most of them inaccurate when it comes to this aspect of link reporting.

Here are several methods that you can do to track new links to your site:

Pro Link Building tools

Link research tools like Ahrefs and Majestic SEO offer a feature where you can view new links to your site that they have crawled and indexed.

But I wasn’t really able to make use of the data that these 2 tools have provided, as both included old linking pages/domains to the site on the report. Nonetheless, I still find both tools very useful.

ahref

Google Alerts

Setting up Google Alerts is also a great tool that you can use to monitor new links and mentions to your site/content.

You can use advanced search operators to filter the web pages that Google will be sending to your email. For instance, you can use this query – “link:yoursite.com –site:yoursite.com” – to only get the pages from other domains that link to any page of your site.

google alerts

Google Search

Using advanced search operators on Google Search (web, blogs, etc…) can also provide you with results of the pages that have recently linked to your site. You can easily modify your searches using the “search tools” feature, to filter the results you want to be displayed.

google search

However, this method may not display all the pages that have recently linked to your site, but you’d be surprised to find some that other tools might have missed.

Google Webmaster Tools

There’s a feature on Google Webmaster Tools that allow site owners to view and download the incoming links to their websites.

Go to Traffic > Links to your site > view more on “who links the most” > Download latest links.

wmt

The report that will be exported in excel format is not that comprehensive as well, but I think it’s still worth looking into.

Google Analytics’ Trackback reports

The trackback report from Google Analytics was the most comprehensive list of new links to the site that I’ve found. I’ve even discovered several links to my blog that I didn’t know that existed.

How to track contextual links through Google Analytics:

  • Go to Traffic Sources > Social > Network Referrals

network referrals

 

  • Click on any of the listed Social Network

socialnetworks

  • Choose on the “Activity Stream”, which is placed on the top right corner of the graph above the table.

activity stream

  • And on the top right part of the screen, you’ll see a dropdown button (next to the name of the social network you’ve chosen) that can display an option, wherein you can choose to see the list of your site’s trackbacks.

trackbacks

 

  • On the bottom left part of the table, show the maximum amount of rows to display all the trackbacks that your site has received in the past month.

rows

  • Export the report in excel or CSV format (you can see the export feature on the top part of the page).

export

  • After exporting, you’ll then have a list of new natural links to your site similar to this:

excelreport

The links extracted through Analytics data may not be the entire new links pointing to your site, since it may miss other link sources that have disallowed sending of trackbacks from their sites. But it’s definitely a good place to start in identifying sites that have voluntarily linked to you.

Why aim for contextual links?

It’s the strongest form of link over the web. Contextual links can be very advantageous to an online business in so many ways.

This type of link can generate more activity to the site. For example, for the past 6 days, the article from Socialmediatoday.com that links to one of my older posts has sent over 500+ visitors to my site (it was published on a weekend as well).

socialmediatoday

Having hundreds of in-content natural links to your site’s inner pages can also help build up your site’s domain authority. And having a strong DA enables a site to compete for highly competitive terms, and it also makes it easier for its pages to be more visible for long-tail search queries.

Given that in-content links are more receptive and are more often utilized by readers/users, they can certainly pass more link value to the destination page that they are linking to. And this can directly impact the search rankings of the link’s landing page.

Lastly, in-content links are very visible to readers (just as I’ve pointed above), which also translates to more brand impression.

It works on other niches

The cycle of gaining natural links on a continual basis doesn’t just work on content-rich and tech-savvy industries (like SEO, social media, technology, etc…). It happens on other niches too.

A good sample of this is Joshua Dorkin’s BiggerPockets.com. It’s a real estate community that produces rich content on a regular basis.

biggerpockets

I’m not affiliated or associated with this site, but I believe Joshua is a reader of my blog (that’s how I got to his site).

Anyway, since they are really active in pushing out useful and engaging content to their community (almost every day), they were able to get ton of natural links to their site’s content.

Like on the most popular post from their blog last month, which was able to acquire links from 16 referring domains. I checked their 4 other popular posts’ link data last month, and each post was able to get 5 – 10 unique linking domains.

Key Takeaways

Contextual link building can be done naturally, but it needs manual push to really scale the process of getting more earned links to a site.

For link building to be really efficient, it’s imperative to consolidate all the other marketing initiatives you do to build awareness to your site.

  • Produce content on a regular basis to constantly grow readership and build more link opportunities.
  • If you can’t produce content on a regular basis, then focus on creating content that no one in your industry can match. Then invest on promoting these assets.
  • Get involved in other online communities in your industry to absorb more readers and possible linkers back to your site.
  • Optimize your content for researchers. They’re the ones who will most likely link back to your content in the future.
  • Work on building an awesome brand through the content you produce, the interactions you make, and the relationships you build.

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

Need help with link building? Hire us.

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The Easiest Way to Bait Links – Get Guest Authors

followerwonk

Link baiting is an online marketing method that’s considerably regarded as both art and science. Given that the process of naturally gaining positive reception to any form of content is replicable and can be mastered through experience, data and constant practice.

That’s why several online viral marketing techniques exist.  Getting back to the topic, there are many approaches to acquiring natural editorial links, but not everything in any viral marketing playbook comes easy, even the one that I’m about to share, I presume.

I’ve already shared this strategy/process on a group interview by Jon Cooper about creative link building strategies, which actually got me few client inquiries this past month.

Anyway, the strategy is about inviting/hiring authority guest bloggers in your industry to contribute content to your site to attract and build more naturally earned links.

I decided to write about it, as there are so many facets and details worth expounding that can make the strategy a process of its own.

The tactic is so powerful, since inviting guest authors to publish content to your site can benefit you in so many ways, such as:

  • Absorbing readership and followers from their blogs.
  • Improving your site’s trust signals, as you improve its author portfolio (getting value from their AuthorRank).
  • Building authority and strong online brand presence through associating with known authors in your industry.
  • Getting continual traffic through referring links and also when their content contribution started to get ranked on search results (possibly for long-tail search terms).
  • Expanding your connections/network through the comments and social mentions that their guest entries are receiving.

But best of all, the strategy can help attract and generate links to your site naturally, since:

  • The contributed content will have better social spread, as both ends will promote it (you and the guest author). This means higher content visibility and more opportunities for linking.
  • Most active bloggers (who do guest blogging) link back and reference their own works – whether it’s published on their blog or on other websites. So the probability of getting a link to their guest entries is very high.

Basically, in this process, your guest authors will build links for you (they’ll do it eventually. I did).

Factors to increase the chances of getting authority guest bloggers

There are some things that you also have to consider before inviting authority bloggers to write for you. To make your guest blog invitations more efficient, it’s important to ensure that your target guest bloggers will also benefit from this type of content partnership.

Reciprocation and value proposition are very important parts of this strategy for it to be effective and scalable. It’s best to start assessing your brand’s assets first, to determine if you can really offer value to your prospected bloggers.

Factors that will make it easier for you to invite and get authority contributors:

  • Your blog’s target audience, readership, number of traffic, subscribers and/or social followers.
  • High SEO value – like domain authority and/or PageRank.
  • Relationships – if you’re well connected with bloggers in your industry and if you’re really good at social networking, the probability of getting approval from them will be higher.
  • Budget – if you don’t have the first 3 factors I’ve mentioned above, then hiring them (to write a single content) is a plausible way to get a post from them.

There are also other approaches (or angles for outreach) that you can utilize to increase the response and approval rates when inviting guest bloggers to your site – which I’ll be sharing more below.

Prospecting

Targeting high-profile bloggers to contribute content to your site is one of the main objectives of this strategy. But that’s going to be really tough if you don’t have enough value to offer.

So instead of targeting popular authors in your niche immediately, you can first start your campaign with bloggers who’re looking to promote themselves as well. Then use their needs as an angle when pitching to them to have an effective outreach campaign.

Industry Peers

Start with your friends in your industry. It’ll be easier to request and get guest contributions from them since they already know who you are.

Bloggers who have products or are about to launch their own product(s)

Find bloggers who have recently launched their own products or are already scheduled to launch a new product. Inviting them to do a guest post to your site will be more feasible for them, especially if you’ll allow them to promote their upcoming product within their guest posts.

You can use Google search to find blogs/sites in your industry that have recently launched a product. Use the “search tools” feature, and sort the results by time of publication (to display fresher results).

Bloggers in your space who are already active in guest blogging

Guest blogging has been the go-to-strategy by most online marketers and bloggers these past couple of years. So it’s kind of easier to spot people in any industry who are actively promoting their sites through this method.

The best thing about this type of prospect is that they are the ones that will really build links to their guest entries, since they do guest blogging a lot. Using their entry on your site as a resource on their future guest posts is more likely to happen.

Pitching

Using angles in your pitches – when inviting guest bloggers – is critical. Determine what you can really offer something of high value to them, and use it as the core of your pitches.

Here are few samples of my own email requests for this type of outreach:

 If you’ll notice, most of the messages contain the following:

  • Personalized introduction.
  • The value that they’ll get from contributing.
  • Targeting their needs (by enabling them to promote their products, services and/or clients).

So far, I have 100% positive response rate from this approach. Perhaps the biggest reasons and factors are the relationship that I’ve already established with the people I’ve contacted and the value proposition as well as the angle used in the request.

Hiring Freelance Bloggers

Another option for this kind of link and brand building strategy is to hire already established bloggers in your industry (who of course do freelance work).

There are 2 ways to find freelance bloggers in any niche. The first one is to use Google search.

While the second one is using Followerwonk to find freelance bloggers who have strong social following base.

It’s also important to evaluate your target freelance bloggers, before actually hiring them. Ensure the quality of the content they produce, if they already have author display on their works’ search result snippets, and if they’re also getting natural links and social shares.

Most freelance bloggers charge $35 – $100 per post, so it’s important to ensure that you’ll be making most out of this investment.

Getting the Links

These content contributions will always result to links, particularly if they’re created by active authors/bloggers. As I’ve mentioned above, links to their guest posts could be voluntarily given by their readers/followers and also by them through the succeeding content that they’ll produce.

Here are some examples of how effective this strategy is when used as a link baiting technique.

Nick Eubanks’ guest post here a few months ago about advancing from SEO to CRO, which has 52 linking root domains (including links from Search Engine Watch, SEOmoz and from his own blog).

Neil Patel’s guest post here about conversion killers, which has 12 linking root domains (including links from his latter posts on Search Engine Journal and Quicksprout).

Kristi Hines’ post on Social Media Examiner about Pinterest Business Accounts, which has 120 linking root domains.

And my guest post on Kikolani about how I built a blog that earned $10,000 in 5 months, which has 9 linking root domains (not much, but it did get natural links from SEOmoz, Blogpreneurs and Webimax – and now here).

Ok, so I gave Kristi some good links there, right? And I also got some really hard-to-replicate links from authority link sources through Nick and Neil’s guest posts as well. I guess that’s enough proof to say how effective this marketing and link development tactic is.

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

Kaiserthesage’s Top 10 Link Building Posts in 2012

antipenguin_ahrefs

2012 has been a both great and tough year for link builders all over the world. I kept writing about link building and shared what I’ve continuously learned, despite the evolving challenges we all share and encounter at some point.

Below are several of my popular entries this year that are about link development tips and strategies. The list was sorted out based on each post’s popularity and reception – through social shares, comments, unique pageviews, conversions and number of links they have naturally gained.

10 Best Link Building Posts on Kaiserthesage from 2012

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

 

2. Anti-Penguin Link Building Plan

 

3. A Link Development Strategy for Large Websites

 

4. Ultimate Guide to Link Building with Images

 

5. Link Building in 2012: Scalable Link Building

 

6. How to Use Personas for Link Building and Social Media

 

7. Linker Outreach: A Method for Social and Editorial Link Building

 

8. How to Automate Link Building

 

9. How to Earn Links by Building Mind Share

 

10. Viral Marketing Strategies to Get Massive Traffic Spikes

There are also other blog entries – which also involved the topic link building – that didn’t make it to the top 10. Most of them were just included as a part of other posts that tackled broader topics (content marketing, inbound marketing or social media) and/or slide presentations from speaking gigs (such as this and this).

If in case you’d like to see some of them, you can check out the extensive list all of my posts on online marketing and SEO strategies.

Link Building Guest Posts

I’ve also written link building posts that were published on other industry blogs, and you can check them out below:

Best Link Building Tips, Strategies and Resources I’ve Read in 2012

Below are the most remarkable resources from the people I highly respect in the link building community – that really influenced my thinking and on how I will probably approach work this 2013.

 

 

 

 

For 2013, I’ll definitely write more posts about new link building strategies. But I plan to focus more on case studies (with comprehensive and actionable guides, of course).

2012 was a great year. We can expect more changes and challenges this coming year, but the thing that I really love the most about our community is that we all help each other, particularly in sharing usable information.

Let’s all get better this year. Happy New Year fellow link builders!

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

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Using Brand Building Strategies to Improve Link Building

Link building has changed a lot these past few years, especially this year when Google has rolled out its anti-link spam update – better known as the Penguin update.

These changes have given birth to an era where different ideologies in marketing are being integrated to SEO. Search engines are constantly evolving, and our approach should too.

Keyword-focused link building is long gone (in most cases), wherein the only way to win in search is to authentically build a brand as an authority.

I’ve been saying this a lot lately, and will certainly do it again here. Start applying branding principles to make the most out of your link acquisition campaigns. Brand building is the new link building.

Here’s a good question every link marketer should ask themselves every time they try to build links:

Would this content placement, interaction or idea surrounding the link be eventually helpful in solidifying our brand values and equity?

Strong brands are winning the web (social/search), and that’s a challenge that link builders have to accept. Link building is getting bigger, in which it encompasses different practices and approaches to achieve maximum results.

It has become more of a branding and traffic/lead generation tool these days (and not just for search engine optimization). Seeing link building in that point of view will help you more in getting the rankings you think you deserve.

Google is getting more complex every day, and the capability to understand how links are being utilized over the web can simply throw ton of ideas on how they should be weighing links.

Link building is Brand building

Branding is about committing to the core principles that a company believes in, such as championing a cause, leveraging thought-leadership and/or USP.

Here’s a very insightful slide presentation from Paul Isakson, explaining how brand building has evolved over time:

Imagine if we can all assimilate that mindset on how we build links. People and search engines would certainly find the commitment worthy of being shared and seen.

When you know how you want people to see your brand, you’ll resist shortcuts and spammy tactics just to get the job done.

As what Paul has mentioned on his presentation, define who you are and what you stand for, and then commit to it. Let the brand identity that you are aiming to project lead how you communicate your brand’s ideas.

Brand Ambassadors

People are more to trust people than the brand itself. It’s easier to convey a brand’s message when it’s coming from the people behind the brand, because people will more likely listen.

Invest on developing personalities who can carry the brand’s flag, because real people are more apt when it comes to building awareness, shaping brand identity and in reinforcing perception.

This is where thought-leadership is also built, gradually, which is a strong factor that can set the brand in a better market position.

Here’s a great sample, Leo Widrich, co-founder of Bufferapp, has been really active in guest blogging when they were just starting to promote Bufferapp.

The strategy didn’t just propel their business’ to reach 100,000 customers, it also allowed Leo to become one of the most credible social media practitioners in the industry.

Of course, that end-result is adding more value to the brand, and it’s certainly opening more opportunities for them (links, mentions, followers, customers, loyalists, etc…)

Try to build someone up who can continuously provide solutions to your market’s common problems through the content they’ll be distributing across the web. Few advantages that this strategy can bring to your link acquisition campaigns:

  • The more your brand ambassador(s) publish content on different sites as well as reach out and interact with other people in your industry, the more they can build relationships, which is very important, especially in link building, nowadays.
  • It’s also a great way to establish the brand in different sectors of the industry, as ambassadors get to build strong authorship (which is also one of the strongest signals that search engines look into in gauging trust and credibility).
  • It will be easier to penetrate popular industry publications with strict editorials, as the value proposition they add along their contributions is apparent, such as the ambassador’s expertise and following/readership.

Update – 3-14-13

Hey readers! – It’s Anthony Pensabene of SkyrocketSEO.   While penning a post in real time, I reached back into the Kaiser cannon to add some insight here, discussing a tactic I use to build authority and good associations with advocates.  Enjoy!

Associations

Relationships/associations are very important for businesses, because it allows brands to look more credible, especially when they are associated with other high quality brands in its industry.

And in our time, the best way to show off these associations is through the content we provide to our own audience. That’s why inviting industry peers to contribute content to your own site is very powerful when used as a branding/marketing strategy (and a win/win for both parties).

Known advantages of utilizing associations for your campaign’s content production:

  • The site will be able to collect and send out more trust signals as it strengthens its author portfolio (particularly if authorship markups will be implemented).
  • Acquiring natural links, new followers/readers/leads, and social mentions from both parties’ network as the content gets promoted on both ends.
  • Strong brand impression as new visitors get to see other trusted entities contribute/collaborate content with your brand.

Both SEOmoz and Search Engine Land have been successful at this form of branding strategy, seeing that they allow their associates to regularly publish high-quality content on their sites (like being associated with the industry’s other top brands such as SEER Interactive, SEOGadget, Distilled and BlueGlass).

Another strategy that you can do, if in case some of your peers or target influencers are busy to write new content for your site’s blog, is to ask them to republish some of their old content (that is really relevant to your audience).

Here’s an example: in 2007, Rand Fishkin wrote an article about strategies on how to grow a blog’s audience (which he has updated early this year).

I also remember 2 years ago, the original post from 2007 was republished as a guest post (with permission) on a social media blog – see the post here.

Republished post in 2010

Republished post links back to the original content

The impact to a brand of having someone as influential as Rand Fishkin to do a guest post on its blog is definitely beneficial, in terms of branding perspectives.

I’ve also encountered this strategy, but I was the one on the other end (and seem to work well in referring new traffic). Since I allowed a Brazilian SEO blog republish some of my evergreen posts and be offered in a different language.

A US-based tech VC firm also asked me recently if they can republish two of my blog posts on their blog (since the posts are something that their audience are really interested in). You can see the post here and here.

So as a publisher, why would we allow you to republish our content, when people can just read ours? Here are a few pointers on doing a pitch for content republication:

  • If your site targets a different audience and already have established readership/following. Your pitch will have higher chances for approval (ex: your audience are startup owners who’re interested in SEO).
  • If your readers speak a different language. Translating our content is a very enticing proposition.
  • Pick older posts and offer it to a different audience (ex: old but evergreen SEO content and share it to social media practitioners).

Positioning

When you’re doing link acquisition, it’s imperative that you always think if the effort will push the brand to the unique position it wants to occupy in its target market.

That’s why targeting the right sites and publications – where your target audience really are – is as important as the quality of the message you’re trying to communicate.

Always put a place for your brand’s unique value proposition on your content and interactions. The more people see you as an authority in solving a particular problem in your industry, the more that they’ll trust and go to you.

Links should be used as passageways for people who really care about what your brand is committed on doing. Make it easier for them to find you. Acquire links from sites that you’d really get click-through visitors (sites that have your audience).

Strong brand messaging on relevant authority sites, that’s the key to get the links that influence brand perception and search optimization.

Long-term Perspective

Aim for long-term growth through link development by building useful pages or getting links from useful pages that people will constantly find and consume. Don’t build links just for the sake of volume (or just to make your report look great).

Useful content can continuously attract visitors (through search and other referring websites), which means getting links or being visible through these pages will allow you to:

  • Get constant traffic/leads to your site
  • Attract more possible linkers and followers
  • Continually build awareness and brand impression

So how can you inject this principle to your link building campaigns? Here are a few samples:

  • Acquire links from pages that are already ranking for informational keywords, because they get visitors that can easily be engaged. Interact and add value/useful information on the discussion, because this is certainly a good opportunity to make your brand stand out (ex: popular Quora threads, discussion on an industry forum, or a popular blog post).
  • Create useful and evergreen content that your target market searches for and host it on high DA (domain authority) publications or UGC sites. Published content on these types of sites can easily rank for both competitive and long-tail keywords (like pages from Slideshare, Youtube, etc…), which can help you continuously build brand awareness and generate traffic.

A brand is a progressive story, and content (distribution and interactions) as well as link development are efficient platforms you can use to communicate the progress of the brand’s story.

Quality, Authenticity and Consistency in messaging

The quality of the content you produce/distribute and the interactions you make can reflect the quality of the products/services you offer.

Treat every interaction and content as your own product. Always be at your best when contributing and participating on discussions on other sites.

It’s also important to be selective with the channels and topics you choose to disseminate branded content (content and interactions that somehow demonstrate your brand’s unique selling point and field of expertise).

The more you focus on bringing quality to your content distribution campaign – and being consistent with it – the more you can develop a strong and positive customer/market perception. That’s where you can control how people collectively see the brand’s values and personality.

TL;DR – Build a strong brand presence online to win at search. Search engines will obviously continue to favour brands.

And the best way to align content and link development efforts with the core values of the brand is to have a clear definition of how you want your brand to be seen by people.

For more live samples, I highly recommend to check out Justin Briggs’ case studies on building high-powered links and Wil Reynolds’ post on how they do RCS.

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

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Improving Value and Volume in Link Building

Quality vs. Quantity is one of the perennial questions that have been frequently asked in the link building game. Most of us already know that focusing all our efforts on quality will always win, though some of us are still hesitant, puzzled and anxious of some sort. Why?

Because, providing value, as a marketing objective has been very difficult to scale, particularly on agency and enterprise level. Given that value/quality can’t easily be replicated, won’t ever be generic, and most of all – it can’t be done in speed.

The landscape of search has been changing a lot, and it’s definitely the time for us link builders/marketers to also adapt and change our ways on how we provide our services to clients.

Don’t get me wrong, link building is still a number’s game, but a lot are counting and looking on the wrong spot.

PS: This is actually a follow up post, so you may also want to read my post on conversion-oriented link building in case you haven’t read it yet.

Value Defeats Results to Volume

Like what Ian Lurie shared on his recent presentation on MozCon, link building is an outcome, not an initiative. This basically means the higher value people see in your brand/content, the higher volume of links you’ll get naturally or almost effortlessly.

However, there’s more to than just that, as volume can also be reflected through other aspects to justify the value of your own efforts for your clients.

If you are serving volume to your clients, you are probably looking on the wrong metrics. Instead of basing the volume of your campaigns through the amount of links you are getting, why not measure it through the multiple end-results driven from the links you have acquired?

Most of us focus on the methods, and not on the end-results.

Why do we do or offer link building in the first place? For rankings, traffic, branding and/or to increase revenue? Then why not measure those instead of giving full emphasis on the amount of links we or our clients want for each month.

Those are the things that bring better impact to their businesses, and certainly the reasons why they have invested in link building.

Let value generate volume. Track the things beyond the surface to demonstrate and present both the value and the volume of impact of your methods, because that will keep you and your clients in business.

I know that some of you reading this will be a little bewildered on how to present that kind of data to your clients, so here are few samples of link building methods and how to measure their efficiency based on their value in business perspectives:

Sample 1: Guest blogging

Guest blogging is a method where businesses can “share their expertise” by using other high-traffic channels (authority blogs, content hubs, etc…) to draw more potential customers to their business. That’s the whole point of the method, not just to help your site improve its rankings!

So bank on that concept and start measuring the things that are getting you immediate results!

For instance, I submitted a guest post on SEOmoz early this year about linkable asset ideas. Did that help my site’s rankings? Maybe yes or maybe no. But the thing is that action empowered my personal brand as an industry expert.

And with that, there are so many areas that you can then measure to see the true weight and impact of the method, such as:

  • Brand impression and interactions based on the amount of social shares, natural links and comments it received
  • Number of traffic that the link was able to send over to your site as well as the percentage of traffic that resulted to conversions/transactions.

  • If the post is ranking for relevant keywords

By providing value to their community, you can then easily come up with the volume of link opportunities, as you get to scale your process by making your brand more known and be able to build rapport with the people who have shared, liked and interacted with you through the content.

Relationships drive search engines crazy, and that is an aspect that will certainly shape your domain/brand authority and eventually boost your search rankings.

The volume will also reside on the results driven by the method. Include these insights in your report, because I believe that amount of data will surpass the 100+ of links type of report. This will compel them, particularly if they can see that your efforts are directly resulting to more revenue for them.

Sample 2: Content Marketing/Link Baiting

Another highly-effective method in building links is through hosting great content within your site that will not just attract links, but also potential customers to your business. The business value of this method can extremely be quantified in so many ways.

Here’s an example, one of my popular posts on this blog about link prospecting has helped my business in terms of traffic, links, branding and especially in acquiring new clients:

So if you’re helping your clients do this type of content generation and link development, you can definitely upsize the volume of results that you’ll get with minimal work. Measure these areas to determine efficiency:

  • Number of natural links and editorial mentions to the content. Make this work by implementing targeted outreach and social promotions.
  • Number of social shares from various social networks as well as comments/interactions generated by the content.
  • Rankings for relevant keyword(s).
  • Amount of traffic generated and conversions/transactions initiated by the content to the site.

Sample 3: Free Ebook

Giving away Ebooks has certainly been an effective link and lead generation strategy for years, especially if it’s offering high-value information in it.

You can easily acquire links if you offer a high quality free ebook to bloggers in your niche as a freebie for their audience who’re specifically seeking for what the information that your ebook is containing. Submitting the ebook to various ebook directories can also help get you some links.

Just look at iAcquire’s free link building guide ebook, it has generated some really solid links to it, and I’m quite certain that they have gained a lot from it in terms of lead acquisition and social branding (seeing that they’ve used pay with a tweet to amplify social promotion). 

Another great story using the same strategy is with David Cohen’s intern who has generated $30,000+ in just a month of work and hustle (creating an ebook, reaching out to bloggers, and acquiring leads along the process).

Invest on this kind of marketing approach/content asset and measure as well as present more than just the links to your clients:

  • Social shares.
  • Links acquired to the ebook’s download page or site/brand mentions instigated by the free giveaway.
  • Amount of leads/sales generated.
  • Relationships built along the process of promoting.
  • Traffic and search rankings of the Ebook’s download page.

Sample 4: Comment and Forum Seeding

Marketing your brand through participating on high-traffic online communities, such as blogs and forums in your industry, can both help you become an authority in your industry and send potential clients/customers to your site.

Add value to discussions, and target pages that have high chances of ranking for keywords that may be used by your target audience. This will allow you to continuously absorb traffic from pages where you have contributed your expertise/knowledge to.

For instance, I recently tested comment marketing to mainly measure how much traffic and/or conversions I can get from it on a post on SEOmoz.

The added value I got from a single comment that I did for just a minute or two resulted to:

  • Brand exposure to (probably) hundreds of people who have seen the comment
  • Built rapport with the people who have found the post/link useful and shared it on Twitter
  • Traffic: 132 visits

Another one is from a forum post from last year that’s still sending traffic and possible clients to my blog.

I’m not really that active on Warrior Forum anymore, but this post surely did add great value to me as a business owner.

Take your link building campaigns to the next level and start measuring things beyond rankings, because that is where you’ll find significant quantity/volume. Test what’s really working from your campaigns that are bringing in business value and continuously enhance those methods.

Don’t just show your clients a big list of links. Make them understand that link building is not just about improving rankings anymore, as this small fraction of online marketing can be a big part of how your efforts will influence their traffic, brand and conversions. It’s our job to ensure that their investment in link building is really helping their businesses grow.

Final thought to continuously make ourselves a better SEO:

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How to Construct and Use Personas for Link Building and Social Media

As defined by Wikipedia, a Persona is a role played by an “actor”. In marketing, personas are commonly used to better understand a certain industry’s target market’s behavior based on demographics, needs and interests.

This marketing concept (which is often used in market research) enables marketers to easily build a solid content strategy as well as approach in sending specifically targeted messages to each persona that represents a segment/type of audience.

However, in this post, I’ll be discussing more on how to use created personas in doing actual link acquisition and social media marketing practices, by using them as ambassadors that will help scale the process of marketing a brand over the web.

The great thing about using personas to be used in web marketing is that they can serve as a link magnet and linkable asset that will help generate more natural links and social mentions as well as strengthen a brand’s online presence through continuously building its authority in the industry.

Shape Identity, Value and Thought-leadership

In creating personas, it’s important to first come up with a unique identity that the persona will be embodied with, which should also appeal to a bigger segment of the industry’s market and can cultivate interest through the content that he’ll be producing/sharing (pretty much like being an image consultant).

Let’s say you’re handling a brand that’s in the automotive industry, you’ll definitely want to cover the topics that can easily generate attention (technology, entertainment and/or DIY side of the industry), because it’s easier to build readership and attract links from these areas.

Once you’ve already molded a good target for your persona’s unique role in the industry, you can then start with the basic details that your character would need such as:

  • Name
  • Job title
  • Niche/expertise
  • Profile Picture(s)
  • Profile pages (Twitter, About.me, Google+, etc…)

There are also several approach that you can choose from to ensure that you’ll be benefiting from the persona that you’ll be building up to meet both short and long-term objectives:

  • Choose a member of the organization that will most likely be present as long as the company/organization exists, like the company’s CEO or one of its core members. Build their online presence/personal brand through content marketing, wherein they can just provide data and hire ghostwriters/editors to document and transcribe their content ideas.
  • Create and develop an expert persona from scratch, which you can use and keep for as long as you want.
  • Hire, borrow or rent identity from freelance bloggers in your industry (that have an impressive content portfolio).

Once you have sorted this phase out, it will be easier to build value from it, which will often come from the persona’s perception and influence.

Authorship and AuthorRank

Authorship markup (rel=”author”) could possibly be one of the most significant signals/factors that Google might use in determining authority pages/websites from their indices, and it might as well turn into one of the strongest types of artificial links one can build in the near future.

Build solid authors that will disseminate authority and influence through content contributions on different blogs in your industry, as search engines are more to reward great authors with more prominence in their search results. If search engines know that your brand houses reputable/credible authors, it will easily translate to better search rankings.

Action Plan

This approach to link building and social media may take time for it to harvest tangible results. However there are still plenty of ways that you can do to speed up the process of achieving the campaign’s short and long-term goals – by simply gaining from each action that will be taken.

The best thing about this method is that it can work on small to enterprise-level companies, for the fact that people follow people, not companies and people can easily build relationships, companies can’t.

Phase 1: Research

This stage of the strategy will only take at least 2-3 days to be completed and will involve these processes:

Link prospecting

Find blogs, sites and influencers in the industry that your persona will engage and try to acquire a link from for the succeeding stages of the campaign. You can use this link prospecting method to start off and Followerwonk to find influencers in your industry (and download the list to excel).

Prospect Segmentation

Segment your list by level of difficulty of acquisition and by level of priority. You can easily distinguish the ones that you’ll need to prioritize based on domain-level metrics (PR, DA and traffic data – SEMrush, Compete or Alexa) and brand metrics (social following, readership/subscribers and strength of community).

Create 2 different lists that you can work on immediately, one for speed link acquisition (blogs that you can easily submit a guest post to – using queries like “keyword + write for us”), and the second one for authority link building (high-end blogs and news sites in your industry that you must acquire a link from).

For the list of authority blogs, I highly suggest to start with 10 – 20 prospects that your persona will try to engage and land a guest post on for the initial stage of the campaign (first month).

Content Strategy Development

Make a list of topic ideas that’s based on your persona’s target niche/area(s) of expertise. You can start by listing at least 20 – 30 working titles for your posts that will cover basic to advanced topics.

Sort your list into three different categories (for materials that will be published on the company’s own blog under the persona’s name, for speed guest blogging and for the authority blogs you aim to land a guest post on).

Grow your list of topic ideas along the process to keep your campaign on track.

Few tips on generating topic ideas:

  • Base your content on keywords that your persona’s target audience will most likely use to find the information that the content contains. You can use keyword tools like Google Keyword Tool, UberSuggest and Google Insights.
  • Get ideas from other authoritative blogs in your industry and from your competitors as well, expound their ideas (and give credit to them).
  • Follow and subscribe to news sites in your industry to instantly generate news-related content ideas.

Email Outreach Template Creation

Craft email copies that you can use for your outreach (for guest blogging opportunities). It’s best to make your copies easy to personalize and straightforward.

As for the authority blogs that you’ll be aiming to obtain a high-value link from, I highly suggest making everything personalized (and it will also be better if you’re already on their radar before contacting them for better conversions).

Linkable Asset Inventory

Find existing highly linkable content (hosted on your company’s site/blog) that your persona might be able to use, since some bloggers/editors do ask for writing samples before accepting or entertaining your requests for an opportunity to contribute a guest entry to their blogs.

Phase 2: Content Development

After doing your research, you can then start creating content based on your inventory and content strategy. Start with the content that you’ll use for your own company’s blog, since you can immediately use this to promote the persona and can also be used as a writing sample once you start reaching out to other blogs for guest blogging opportunities.

Have a strict schedule with your content production, as this is the key to building a solid momentum for your content marketing campaign.

Create descriptive outlines for each of your topic idea before assigning them to be written out by your copywriters, so it will be easier for them, as well as to you, in meeting your target standards for the outcome of the content (in terms of information, format, voice and extensiveness of the content).

Continuously create content for the entire period of the campaign, as this will stand as the foundation of the strategy and the persona’s influence.

Phase 3: Connect and engage

Start getting into your prospects’ radar, especially the authoritative/influential ones on your list. You can start on implementing this phase right away after publishing your persona’s first blog post, though this stage is a recurring process that you really need to be consistent with (alongside the persona’s content distribution efforts).

Participate on Discussions

Become remarkable to your target prospects by leaving intelligent remarks on their blog posts. If you’ll be focusing on engaging 10 – 20 people on your campaign’s first month, you can easily build conversations with them through their posts’ comment threads. Be interesting, catchy and intelligent.

Share their works on Social Networks

This one’s pretty basic and very self-explanatory. It’s best to personalize your tweets/shares to make it more appealing to your target prospects, especially if you’re mentioning them on your tweets/shares.

Phase 4: Disseminate Content

Reach out to your link targets for guest blogging opportunities (to both high and low priority prospects), since by this time you already have enough content from your pool that you can submit right away to them. And by this time you’ll also have a rock-solid writing sample that you can present if ever someone asks for it.

This stage of the strategy is doable on the second week of the campaign, particularly if your content writers have hustled on the first week of the campaign in producing content.

Developing and growing a strong social following for the persona will heavily rely on the consistency of his/her content distribution (both on and off-site), making this phase very critical.

There are also other methods that you can do to leverage and promote your persona as an industry expert such as:

  • Mentioning the persona through the site’s other external content distribution campaigns.
  • Conducting a group interviews (crowdsourcing) and including the persona as one of the expert contributors, then publishing the content on high-traffic industry site/blog(s).
  • Pitching bloggers to do an interview with the created persona.

Phase 5: Build Alliances

Track the people sharing your persona’s content, especially those who have substantial following/readership (you can use Topsy), as these people can help you further with your content marketing campaign, if you can have them on your side, sharing your future posts/guest posts.

Build relationships with them by sharing their works on social networks as well and conversing with them (you can easily start by thanking them for sharing your content). Grow these kinds of connections, as this will help you to semi-automate your content promotions in the future.

Phase 6: Scale

There are so many things that you can do once you’ve successfully established an authority figure/expert persona for your brand, as it’s expected to attract and create more linking opportunities through editorial mentions and certainly higher conversions for link requests (guest blogs, resource links, etc…).

Here are some other methods that you can implement to ensure that the persona will be in top shape and stay ahead of its competitors:

Find where other influencers in the industry contribute content to

Expand your list of prospects by knowing where industry influencers absorb more readers/followers from. You can use simply use Google to extract this data and scrape the results using this method.

Setup Google Alerts for the persona’s name

Make sure that you’re tracking your persona’s name on Google Alerts, so you can easily be notified if someone has mentioned it on other blogs/site. With this, you can create more hard-to-replicate links, just by asking people who have linked/mentioned the persona to give attribution to the company’s site as well (like requesting to include the company where the persona works next to his/her name – ex. Jason Acidre, marketing consultant for “Affilorama”).

Start pitching for regular columns

Since the persona has already built its authority and credibility as a source for industry-related information and has created a strong portfolio of content, it will have higher chances of getting accepted as a columnist on authority blogs and news sites.

Momentum is Key

This strategy is very doable and can certainly obtain great results in under a month or two of thorough implementation, just look at Jon Cooper of Point Blank SEO! You just need to know if you’re on the right track, and then push harder if you’ve proven that you’re doing it right.

So how would you know if you’re doing it right? See if people are sharing and finding your content useful. And see if you’re receiving “natural links” from it. If yes, then you are on the right path. Take advantage of that start, and start building the momentum (which means to create and promote more valuable content).

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Image Credit: Membruto