I think it’s safe to say that “link building” in the form that many view it is dying, if not already dead. Any digital marketing campaign that has link building as either the primary focus or a form of measuring success is going to have an uphill battle. My philosophy is simple: create content that people want, and let your fans do the link building. (Tweet this)
Here are a few points that can help you stop “building links” and start actually earning them.
1. Creative Content: The New Form of Link Building
Quit wasting time contacting mediocre blogs that nobody reads just so you can get a link pointing back to your site. If people don’t care about the blog, there is a darn good chance Google feels the same way. (Tweet this) It is time consuming, ineffective, and is not nearly as fun as what you could be doing. My team has recently put a huge emphasis on creating awesome content for our clients. Whether it’s in the form of an interactive graphic, video, or even just a well researched blog post, people naturally share and link to content that they love.
We recently created a video showing “golf hacks” for those who play golf. The video has not only brought in solid traffic and social shares to the clients blog, but was instantly picked up by several golf blogs, including GolfDigest.com, one of the biggest golf sites on the web. Outreaching to an editor to get them to let you do a “guest post” would not only be a long shot, but would suck up a lot of time. We built something awesome and they came to us. That is a simple example of letting content work for you.
2. Priming The Pump: Outreach
Every now and then you are going to have a content piece so good it will naturally blow up the second it goes live. However, reality is most of our content isn’t going to do that. While “guest blogging” is a dying breed, outreach is still very much in style. You need to be reaching out to key influencers in your industry to get your content in front of them. Influential users are human just like you, meaning when they see something really cool, they want to share it because it makes them look better. Also, because they are human they also don’t like to be spammed. Don’t reach out to somebody and say “You are going to love this graphic! Please retweet it!” Just reach out to these people and make a friend! When doing promotional outreach, don’t look for contacts, look for new friends. (Tweet this) When a personal friend of mine hits me up with a piece of content he/she wants promoted, I feel obligated to share it because they are a friend. You should aim to have those types of friendships with as many people as you can online.
Use Google Communities, Facebook Groups, forums, Twitter, FollowerWonk and basic outreach skills to get your content out there. It is also wise to utilize the current relationships you have with blogs. Odds are they probably want to publish your cool graphic more than your crappy article. If it is good content, people will share it.
Study the market before you ever create something. Don’t publish something that has been done before. Every piece of content you create should add to a conversation happening on the web. (Tweet this) Just like in business, get people to the product and let the product sell itself. Your content shouldn’t be any different. If you find yourself trying to convince somebody your campaign is cool, you’ve already lost. (Tweet this)
3. Casting The Net And Reaping The Rewards
In old school outreach, you knew where every link would be coming from because you were the person that planted them. When you shift your focus to creating solid content, it can be tricky to keep track of the natural links coming in from people you don’t even know. Use tools like Google Alerts, Open Site Explorer, Open Link Profiler, TweetDeck, and NUVI to track all of the mentions and links your content is getting. You’ll be shocked by how many links are created that you miss when you don’t look for them.
When it comes to graphical content another simple trick is to right click on the image in Google Chrome and select “Search Google for this image.” What happens? Google shows you a list of all the sites it has found with your graphic. This is a great way to see who is linking back to you. (Tweet this) It is also a great way to outreach to sites who published your content without a link, as they are usually more than happy to add that credit link in for you.
Last but not least, recycling content is not a sin. You’ll be surprised how many extra links you’ll pick up when you re-push out a piece of content six months after you initially promoted it. Often your audience will grow and many people will see that content for the first time.
These are just a few tips that will help your company become (or stay) a competitive brand. Users are demanding solid content, not relative guest posts with followed links. Have any extra tips to share? Leave your comments below!