Just a quick thanks for the video on wordpress.tv today.
Really simple to follow. The message in a nut shell "Work Harder"
Traffic. If you’re at all involved in publishing content to the web, then you probably care about traffic. If you care about traffic then you probably care about SEO. If you care about SEO, then you probably care about generating links to your web site.
If you don’t care about any of those things, then here’s what you need to know – SEO has the ability to drive massive traffic to any web site, provided you are doing it right. The number one ranking factor, by far, is the number and quality of links pointed at your website. In days of yore (read 2011 and earlier) all you needed was oodles and oodles of links pointing at your site to rank for most any phrase. Google told us they cared about quality, relevant links, but what they said and what they did were two different things. Today, all that has changed.
Today, Google is backing up the tough talk with a hard-core focus on quality and relevant links to your site; and a bunch of crappy links from crappy sites with over-optimized anchor text will do you no good at all (provided it doesn’t get you removed from the index altogether).
So all this begs the question; if you can’t just go out and automate your link building, how do you actually build links to your website?
I’m so glad you asked.
Here are 10 ways to build links that still work today, along with specific recommendations and tips to help you master each link building technique.
There is no better link building technique than amazing content. When you write something extremely valuable to your readers, it will naturally attract links. We share things that we find valuable. It’s human nature.
You’re natural question would be “define epic.”
Here’s what I mean by epic. Your aim should be to write the definitive web page about the topic you are writing about. My aim when I created this post was to write the very best post I could find about “link building techniques.” I may fail in that quest, but it is what I’m shooting for. That means a longer post. That means a lot of work. That means text and images to ensure the post is instructive and valuable to a number of readers.
Of all the link building techniques I know of, my favorite by far is guest posting. Writing guest posts is an EXCELLENT way to get back links to your site. When you write a guest post on another blog, most publishers will allow you to include a bio with a link back to your site. To be safe and ensure your links don’t look too manipulated, be sure to link your name, the url of your website or the website/business name. Don’t link the same descriptive text from the bio of every guest post you write, as that may start to look manipulative over time.
Few people create better links back to their site using this technique than my friend Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media. Andy is a guest blogging machine. He’s seemingly everywhere, but his guest posts add value wherever he goes. And he makes sure he communicates that value back to the publishers where he guest posted. If you’re interested in checking out Andy’s handiwork, he’s even built a Listly list of his guest articles.
Let’s face it. Most infographics suck. There’s nothing worse than being lured into clicking on an infographic that was just a blog post that some “web marketer” thought would generate a ton of links if it was turned into a graphic.
However… HOWEVER, there are few things better at generating interest, awareness, shares and links than a well done infographic or other way to graphically represent complex data. Telling stories with graphics and interactive web apps is a winner. Know who’s doing AMAZING work in this area? The New York Times.
One of the less frequently used link building techniques and a great way to build tons of quality inbound links is to create THE DEFINITIVE RESOURCE about some area that is a good fit for your website or business. I know there are many such “list posts” you probably read every single day. Hell, this blog post technically qualifies as one of them. But that’s NOT what I’m recommending here.
What I am recommending is the lost art of the GREAT list. The list that is novel and informative; exhaustive and well researched; updated and curated.
I am sure there are many examples of publishers who do this sort of thing, but the best example from my body of knowledge is Lee Odden’s excellent Top Rank Blog. Lee created more than a few of these types of resources over the years. My two favorites are the Big List of Search Engine Marketing Blogs (over 400 marketing blogs all categorized and reviewed) and the annual 25 Women Who Rock Social Media list/post.
Notice that both of these lists have a badge associated with them that are easily downloaded and displayed so that people who made the list can show off their credentials. Now…not everyone has a blog with the cache of Top Rank Marketing Blog to be able to pull on and get people to list, but you may. Give it a shot. You never know what might happen!
Another great way to generate links back to your website is to hold a contest. The end result feels a lot like the list curation mentioned in #4 above, but the tactic varies significantly.
You may be struggling to find a reason to hold a contest. I would be willing to hold a contest for nearly any reason or for no reason at all. Hold a contest to crowd-source a design for your blog or a new logo. Hold a “Best Blog In Your Industry” contest. Hold any contest that might get traction and awareness in your industry.
As an example, I present you with Social Media Examiner. They hold an annual contest where readers nominate the best social media blogs. The nominating blog post gets a ton of traffic and engages the entire social media community as people scramble to get their blogs nominated. Then they engage a bunch of experts to serve on the judges panel (more awareness). Then the annual list is announced (along with a badge). The blog post that announced the 2012 winners generated 5892 links from 92 different domains. WOW!
I know, I know. Matt Cutts said press releases don’t have link value. Except he never said that. The exact quote is:
“I wouldn’t expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings, however.”
This does not mean that sites that re-run or syndicate those press releases don’t benefit your rankings. And they clearly do.
So find something to write a press release about. The better your release and the more newsworthy the event you are publicizing, the greater the likelihood your release will get picked up and have a follow on article written with a real world, editorially granted link to your website. You know…the good kind. Buried deep within original content. On a kick ass website.
Even if that never happens, but the release gets picked up by 100 or more news organizations who are starved for content, and your release includes a link to your website, most of those links will count. They probably are not as valuable as the editorially given link from within an original article, but there is some value there.
Some of the best ways to generate links to your website don’t have anything to do with “link building” per se. It just so happens that one of the byproducts of these activities is links and social shares. Events fall into that category.
The simple fact that a customer or evangelist attended an event does not guarantee that they will write about you and link back to your website. But that happens quite regularly. I encourage you to consider hosting an event and to do so in such a way that links become one of the byproducts as people socialize the event before the event, during the event and reminisce about their experiences after the event.
The best part about interviewing someone on your blog (whether in print, via a podcast or on video) is this: Interviewing is a group sport. It takes (at least) two to tango. Which means you’ve immediately doubled the number of people who are interested in promoting that post.
By pulling together a number of experts and interviewing them, or getting their perspective on a hot topic gives you a chance to earn a number of back links. Online friend Cheryl Burgess does this really well. Take the post in the screen shot above as an example that Cheryl wrote for the AT&T small business blog. That one article generated links from 18 different domains since it was published.
One of my favorite ways to create links to your site is to break out of the dull routine of standard business practices and do something remarkable or extraordinary. Take, for example, the About Us page for Lateral in the screen capture above. Rather than another BORING about us, they’ve created an interactive experience – something that involved the website visitor in an unexpected way. When you mouse over a team member, that team member’s picture turns to color from black and white – and every other team member looks at the image that is now color.
And that page has generated links from 432 links from 103 different websites. Wait. Make that 104. So smart.
One of the easiest ways to build links is to share the creative work of others. This may not work all that well unless you already have an audience built, but if you have gained permission to share that work with a link back to the original source, who’s to say other bloggers don’t re-share and credit your site with a link?
Here’s a great example.
Have you see this graphic before?
It was created, best as I can tell, but an agency called Neutron LLC.
It was later re-shared by the website Ads of the World. The Ads of the World page? Linked to by 116 different domains. The original neutron version? Two links. Two.
There you have it. 10 great link building techniques to improve the link profile of your website or blog.
There are many, many, many other ways to build links. These are the ways that tend to generate links in bunches and bunches.
What have you see with your website? What sorts of link building techniques have worked best for you over the years?
Featured image courtesy of Anonymous9000 via creative commons on Flickr.
Just a quick thanks for the video on wordpress.tv today.
Really simple to follow. The message in a nut shell "Work Harder"
I know you have touched on it (indirectly) and only works with certain visual sites, but Pinterest is great for creating links too (as well as identifying link opportunities). Infographics, food recipes, products etc... and hope the re-pins and traffic come in.
I'll make this list even greater by adding one more: helping.
By helping other sites, organisations, companies You can earn a lot of natural, worthy links. Nice list!
Thanks for sharing a real helpful note on link building as its the backbone of the whole SEO campaign. :)
Great post and seems that it was epic enough to get you the top spot in the SERP. However, I would recommend that you go back and proofread it as I noticed several typos in just the first few paragraphs that are likely to distract readers. Otherwise, everything's great!
It' really awesome, excellent post. I Bookmarked it. I am new to blogging and hungry for SEO tricks. Your post is really useful.
The things that you have shorted out are the main points for some SEO and they are using only this techniques. Sharing, press release, guest post are the thins that satisfies some SEOs and they are effective too. I like your views regarding SEO techniques.
Sean - it's so good to see "Create Amazing Content" as the #1 link-building technique. In such a comprehensive, rock-solid list of techniques, it means a LOT to see it placed in the #1 slot. Excellent.
I'm quoting you in my Friday Round-up of Great Marketing Quotes of the Week. Look for it on Friday!
By the way, I've been searching for the silhouette graphic for a presentation, thanks for that Sean :)
Andy and i had actually had a great dialogue about "traffic." I think traffic is a lousy metric. He said "Where there is traffic there is hope." I still think I'm right because "hope" is a weak strategy : )
Nevertheless, the world is the world and we have to deal with it. If we step back and really evaluate what we're doing -- creating links, quotes, and infographics by the metric tonne to trick Google into directing people to our site, it doesn't seem like a very noble activity. There has to be a better way to run a business?
If this looks like hard work...well, that's because it is.
Great, great post. Thanks for the kick in the pants...
Here's a recent example from #8 - just came out today from my friend Marc Pitman. http://fundraisingcoach.com/2013/05/06/21-social-media-tips-for-nonprofits-from-top-experts/
Excellent post and ideas! I think the key element here is that you have to work hard and be excellent to earn links in 2013. It should have always been this way, but now it truly is.
Happy link building...
@Skapski SEO Agreed. At the end of the day it's all about adding value to your audience, whomever they may be. Great point!
@blwinters Thanks for the heads up! I appreciate the feedback!
@JenniferAaliyah Thanks Jennifer! Appreciate the feedback.
@nickkellet Hahahaha. Thanks Nick.
Yes. I liked Andy's Listly list so much I re-created it with my own guest posts this year. Imitation is the sincerest form of theft, or something like that. :)
@nadeem_saifal Glad to be of help Nadeem.
@Peter Zwart Thanks so much Peter.
@RonVanPeursem Thanks Ron. I look forward to checking that out when it's live!
@ginidietrich Hahaha. Nice.
@Shonali Thanks Shonali. It took a while.
Part of the issue is I'm a slow writer. The other part is I would set it aside in favor of something more important for a while and then come back to it. I would say I have 12-15 hours total into it.
@markwschaefer You crack me up Mark :) Sure, this post says link building, but we know better.
This is about creating content experiences that inspire actions. Linking is just one of those actions. SEOs can chase the links and that's fine. There's no tricking that I can see.
The intentional creation of information and media experiences like these examples based on target audience insight is the win. The result extends far beyond links and social shares.
@markwschaefer I got into the same discussion while a gust on #MetricsChat on Twitter a few weeks ago Mark.
If your business acquires customers via the web, then you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is traffic/awareness.
I agree that its not the best metric to measure, but it is/can be a leading indicator to success. If you have a certain amount of traffic and a certain amount of business, then you can calculate your conversion rate. There are three things you can do to earn more business (the only metric that matters).
1. Bring in more traffic and assume it converts at the same rate;
2. Improve your conversion rate via better marketing, design or technology;
3. Improve your targeting and bring better visitors to your site.
I prefer to work on all three simultaneously. But you still need to be measuring something so you know what your benchmarks are for improvement, yes?
@davevandewalle Thanks Dave. I certainly believe it. Link building is very hard work, as I've said before (http://312digital.com/link-building-hard/). The automated shit that used to work, no longer works (thankfully). It's actually created some real, serious issues for SEO agencies that had such success with those tactics in the past.
@Legalwebguru Very true. Quality link building is hard work (as it always was). I've often said that the value of any linkbuilding activity is inversely related to its scalability.
If a certain type of link building was free, easy and valuable, everyone would do it and all that would happen is the total amount of SEO every site that cared about traffic would just be raised by that amount.
@blfarris Thanks Brad. I appreciate the feedback (as always).