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A huge part of the link building process is outreach.
This is the step where you approach other websites and see if they will link to you.
They may link to you for a range of reasons such as you’ve created a great piece of content or you’ve told them about a broken link and have a new resource to replace it.
The thing is, when many of us think about link building, our default mindset usually goes toward proactively building links using outreach techniques.
We tend to think of link building as something that we do, not something that just happens.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and of course, many of us spend a lot of time adding value to businesses by proactively building links via techniques such as content marketing, digital PR, or broken link building.
For many businesses, this is a good use of budget and helps to improve organic traffic faster than they may otherwise get.
The thing is, you shouldn’t need to ask for every single link that a website gets.
Proactive outreach and campaigns are important, but to make link building drive the absolute best return on investment possible, focus on how a website can be link-worthy naturally.
A link-worthy website gets links you didn’t ask for and even if you stop doing outreach, you’ll still get links.
Sounds pretty good, right?
For most of us, it takes work to make a website link-worthy enough to generate links at a good scale and over a long period of time.
For others, it’s not so hard.
For example, when Apple launches a new iPhone, pretty much every technology publication on the internet will link to it!
The same can be said for other huge brands such as Samsung or Amazon.
The sheer brand awareness that they have, often combined with truly unique and innovative products, means they don’t need to worry about getting links.
The same can’t be said for the majority of other websites online which, across the UK and US, are made up of over 90% small businesses.
For many of us, we need to put a lot more effort into making a website link-worthy.
Let’s look at a few ways that you can do this.The Role That Brand Building Plays In Link Building
While brand teams and above-the-line campaigns often sit in teams away from SEO, it’s important to understand the role that brand building plays in link building.
If you are working with a brand that is reasonably well known, either within your industry or generally, then you are in a much better position to generate links without asking.
A strong element of brand awareness and affiliation can add credibility to your link-building campaigns.
Brand awareness can also mean that writers, bloggers, and journalists naturally seek out your content, data, information, and opinions when writing stories which can lead to links too.
Smaller, less-known businesses are not as likely to have this happen and as a link builder, you probably need to work a lot harder to get links.
This is an important distinction to understand because depending on the type of business you work with, your link-building approach and strategy may be different.
For well-known brands, you may be able to generate links you didn’t ask for simply by adding linkable assets to the website or providing PR teams with content assets.
These assets may then generate links naturally without any direct outreach.
For lesser-known brands, you may need to put more work into content that ranks well for research-led keywords and try to establish them as an authority in their niche.How To Create Content That Ranks Well And Is Linked To Naturally
One of the key ways that a piece of content can generate links naturally over time is to rank well in search results.
By doing this, more people will find the content and in some cases, people who find it will link to it from their own content.
This works particularly well if you create content that can rank for keywords that indicate that someone is doing research for something.
Some of the people who carry out this kind of research will be writers, bloggers, and journalists who are looking for information for their own articles.
If they find your content and reference it, they are likely to link to it too.
For example, if a journalist is writing a story about dogs, they may want to include some information about dog names.
If they Google [dog name statistics], this article from Rover ranks well and is updated regularly with new trends and content.
If this article didn’t rank well and wasn’t regularly updated each year with new trends, then it wouldn’t get anywhere near as many links as it does.
You can also look for opportunities to optimize this type of content for keywords that may indicate that someone is looking for data, trends, or statistics.
You can use basic on-page SEO to optimize for keywords including:
[topic] statistics 2023.
Latest [topic] trends.
Anyone searching for these kinds of keywords may not only visit your content but also reference and link to it if they write an article or blog post on the topic.How To Build Linkable Assets Into Link Building Campaigns
One of the classic challenges with link-building campaigns is when you get lots of coverage but no links.
Someone may write about the campaign and mention the brand and campaign, but for some reason, they didn’t include a link to your campaign.
Some publications have no link policies but putting that to one side, you should spend time with each campaign thinking about how you can increase the likelihood of someone linking to you.
One of the best ways is to think about what makes your campaign link-worthy and to carve out time during the production process to create assets that may encourage someone to link to your campaign.
A strong, relevant story may be enough for a journalist to cover it and mention your brand, but to encourage a link, you may need something else such as:
Unique imagery that adds or illustrates the story, allowing you to ask for a credit link for the image.
A profile page on your website for someone from your company who has been quoted in the story.The Importance Of Building Relationships Within Your Industry
Building relationships is an often overlooked part of link building.
We tend to think of building a relationship at the point at which we need a link from someone, not before this point and not maintaining it afterward.
It really pays off to use an approach where you genuinely try to build relationships with key industry contacts outside of your campaigns.
For example, sending them random feedback, tips, or information that they may find useful for their stories that have nothing to do with the brand that you work on.
This is not only useful for them, but it shows that you want to help them outside of times when you’d like something in return – this is what strong relationships are all about.
Bringing this back to link building, having strong relationships with key contacts in your industry can mean that you get links naturally because they are already aware of your brand and the content that you produce.
If they come across your content themselves, they may pay more attention to it and cover it, even if you haven’t explicitly been told about it yet.
Another possibility is that they search for content to link to which you may have produced in the past. If it’s still useful and relevant, they may be more likely to link to it because of their existing relationship with you.
To wrap up, it’s perfectly possible to generate links that you didn’t ask for.
It does take some thought and planning, particularly if you aren’t a well-known brand and don’t have the natural credibility that this can bring.
But even if you’re not a well-known brand, you should put some of your time and resources into some of the activities above that may start to move you in the right direction of generating links that you haven’t asked for.
Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock
You're reading How To Build Links That You Didn’t Ask For
Over the years, link building strategies have evolved and matured.
Long gone are the days of link farms and link exchanges.
Today, link building is about earning links through outreach and high-quality content and less about spammy techniques that try to trick search engines.
Still, link building (or link earning, if you prefer) remains an effective strategy for increasing organic reach and getting discovered.
However, it can also be leveraged to drive traffic as well.
Yet, many brands and marketers still struggle to implement a successful link building strategy.Why Is Link Building SO HARD?
A decade ago, link building was easy. You tossed a few bucks at a link farming company or set up dozens of your own sites and interlinked them. A few hundred dollars or a few hours of work and your site was rolling in top ranks.
Those were the days, right?
The problem was that link building was too easy.
If link building were still easy, then everyone would be doing it. (And everyone used to.)
Link building today is hard.
But with the right tools and knowledge, you can be one of the few utilizing it to its full potential.
Below you’ll find 50 different types of links you should be earning for your business or clients, as well as strategies for acquiring them.
Keep in mind, there is no easy way to build links and not every link type will make sense for every type of business. But I am certain you will find at least a few new link strategies to implement.
Since this is a long list, I am unable to go into great detail for each type of link, so whenever possible I have offered additional resources where you can learn more about the specific strategy.50 Types of Links & How To Earn Them
The strategies below are a mix of options for driving ranking and driving traffic.
In general, social, forum-style, and certain PR links don’t have direct impact on organic rankings but are great for driving referral traffic.1. .EDU Links
While .edu links are not inherently more powerful, .edu sites do tend to have high domain authority, making these links valuable.
To earn .edu links, you can allow guest posts from students (ideally those studying your industry) and encourage them to share the post with teachers/classmates.
Consider offering students a discount or ask about an alumni directory at your alma mater.2. .GOV Links
Much like .edu, .gov sites tend toward high domain authority.
To earn .gov links, focus on how you can help veterans of the armed services.
Offer discounts, training, or scholarships and reach out to your local VA or SBA and notify them of your program.3. .ORG Links
These carry the same benefits as .gov and .edu links, but are easier to get.
Try sponsoring a charity program, offer your services/products pro bono, or volunteer.4. Editorially-Given Links
Editorial links happen naturally when you publish high-quality, engaging content.
Build a diverse content marketing plan for the best chance of earning these.5. Links From Traditional Media or Press
The best way to get links from the press (e.g., newspapers, magazines, radio, TV) is by creating a resource or study that journalists will cite.
You can also use HARO to answer reporters’ questions, but it can be time-consuming to sort through the twice-daily emails.
This is a good in-depth post about media link building.6. Internal Links
Internal links are some of the easiest to build.
If you use WordPress, I recommend a related post plugin to find more internal linking opportunities on your own site.7. Links From Complementary Businesses Within Your Niche/Industry
Complementary businesses have a similar target audience but don’t directly compete with you.
To earn links try offering to exchange guest posts, write a review of their product/service, or co-build a marketing campaign.8. Links From Competitors in Your Industry
If you can get competitors to link to you, you know you are doing something right.
Consider creating a job board or do some in-depth, original research that’s so valuable they can’t help but link to it.9. Niche Forum Profile Links
The value of these links lies in the audience, which are people who are highly involved in your industry.
Search for top niche forums in your industry and start engaging.
Offer value first, then share links when it makes sense.10. Social Media Profile Links
If you don’t already have your site added to all your social profiles, go do that now.
A simple step, but it sometimes gets overlooked, particularly because there are just so many social platforms.
And any others where you maintain a presence.11. Social Media Post Links
You want to post new content to your social channels.
But also use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule content multiple times to keep driving traffic.12. Links From Reddit
This is separate from other social media links because it requires a very careful approach.
Reddit users particularly dislike being sold to, but it can be done if handled carefully.
Brent Csutoras has written extensively about marketing on Reddit.13. Links From LinkedIn Company Directory
Another simple, but overlooked link.
If you haven’t already, create a company page and add a link to your site.14. (Relevant/Non-spammy) Industry Directories
No, don’t go out and get dozens of crappy directory links.
But DO look for legit industry directories.
This is a good source for finding niche directories.
Can’t find one for your industry or niche? Create your own.15. Links From Local Directories
Think Yelp, Bing, etc.
This is particularly important for local brick-and-mortar stores, but can help online brands, too.
Check out this post for a list of local directories.16. Links From Template Directories (Create a WordPress Theme)
If you have the dev skills (or someone on your team does), create a WordPress theme or plugin that others in your industry would find useful.
Alternatively, commission one and white label it.17. Links From Ebooks
Write an ebook, then add a link.
Simple stuff, right?
Writing a book can be time-consuming, so consider hiring an editor to help you turn a series of blog posts into a book.18. Links From Local News Sites
A similar strategy for getting traditional media links, but focus more on your local area.
This is a good resource to get started.19. Guest Blogging Links
Yep, good old guest blogging.
Find an industry news blog or complementary business blog and pitch a solid, well-written post.20. Manual Outreach Links
Manual outreach is a numbers game, but it does work.
Look for broken links to pitch resources for, reach out to webmasters when it makes sense, and above all make sure you are offering value.
This video on Moz is a great resource for manual link building.21. Google My Business Link
Don’t forget to claim your listing and add your website link.
In many cases, people will see this information before they see your site.22. Links with Brand Name Anchor Tags
See your brand listed or talked about somewhere? Ask for a link.
Set a Google Alert for brand mentions and reach out when you find someone is talking about your brand.23. Links with Key Term Anchor Tags
Branded anchor tags are good, but so are key term anchor tags.
You can literally see real-time sales and conversion data for any website, and which campaigns drove that traffic. Start your free trial today.
Use key term anchor tags internally, and ask for them when you are comfortable doing so.24. How-to Guide Links
Is there a topic or process you spent a ton of time researching or perfecting?
Publish a resource or how-to guide for others in the same position.
Think about it – if you were looking for a resource there’s a good chance other people are searching for a guide, too.25. Resource Guide
Compile a list of resources or ideas people in your industry would find useful.
For example, a list of 50 links you’d want to earn or places to find free stock photography.
Offer value and you will earn links.26. Infographic Links
You can create these based on your own research or curate stats from other sites.
Create in-house using a tool like Canva (they have a specific infographic creator) or outsource.27. Infographic Citation Links
I mention performing and publishing your own research a few times in this post.
That is because unique research is fantastic at attracting links – including from infographics.
Make sure you send out your research results and state it can be used in infographics.28. Links From Q&A Sites
Go on sites like Quora and offer useful answers to questions.
The key here is offering value, not just searching for places to drop your link.29. Links From Emails
If you have a newsletter list, use it.
Also, consider sponsoring a newsletter for a complementary business.30. Graphic Links 31. Links From Videos
Don’t overthink video.
You can go live on Facebook using a smartphone and good lighting, then upload the video to YouTube.32. Links From SlideShare
Did you give a speech, teach a class, or present a webinar?
Repurpose the content by uploading those slides up on SlideShare.
Make sure to add KTs and a link to optimize your slides.33. Links From Reviews
Ask bloggers or influencers in your industry to try your product/service and write a review.
Some will do this in exchange for product, some will charge.34. Links From Wiki Sites
There is much more than just Wikipedia.
Find a Wiki related to your industry and contribute.
Publishing industry-related research is helpful for this.
Here is a list of hundreds of wikis.35. Dofollow Links
When possible, ask for followed links in all of these strategies.
BUT, don’t forget about nofollows.36. Nofollow Links
Most of the time followed links are better, but nofollow links are better than no links at all, so don’t turn these down.
Plus, ill-placed links can be penalized by Google, while nofollows won’t and may drive a good bit of traffic.37. Ask People You Know
Ask friends and close colleagues if you can link to them and if they will to you.
It never hurts to ask, but tread carefully here.
Make sure there is value in the link.
A concrete company linking to a baking company is a stretch, but a cupcake company linking to a bouncy house rental company makes sense.38. Conduct an Interview
Ask an industry friend or expert a few questions through email or by phone and publish the results.
Make sure to send a link to your interviewee, they will likely share on social and extend your reach.39. Give an Interview
Keep an eye open for social media posts from people in your network asking for interviews and give an interview yourself.40. Links From Podcasts
Pitch to be a guest on industry podcasts (or start your own podcast).
This is a good guide for pitching podcasts.
Pitching can be time-consuming, so you consider outsourcing that part.
Just be careful to only pitch podcasts that make sense for your brand.41. Contribute to a Crowdsourced or Quote Post
Contributing your thoughts to a quote post takes just a few minutes and will often earn you a link to at least a social profile if not your site.42. Write a Crowdsourced or Quote Post
Flip the script and write your own crowdsourced post.
Make sure to send the final link to all who contributed and tag them on social media.43. Links to News
Set a Google notification to email you when industry news is trending and write a post about it.
News posts can be short and sweet, the goal is to publish fast and ride the wave of trending topics.44. Create a Tool
CoSchedule’s headline analyzer is a perfect example of driving links through tool creation.
So is HubSpot’s blog topic generator.45. Create a Template
If creating a tool is outside of your resources, create a template people in your industry would share.
For example, a link outreach email template, an infographic template, or an editorial calendar template.
These can be hosted on Google Drive or you can ask people to exchange their email for access.46. Links From Webinars
Either sponsor a webinar with another brand (like Search Engine Journal) or host your own.
Make sure to upload your slides to SlideShare after.47. Links to Original Research
Doing original research is just about guaranteed to draw links.
The simplest way is to start an annual industry poll and publish the results.
Create an infographic for additional link opportunities.48. Links to Glossaries
Draw up a list of top industry key terms and create a glossary of definitions (e.g., Search Engine Journal’s SEO Glossary).
If done well, this will attract links from competitors, journalists, and bloggers.49. Links to Your Case Studies
First things first, you’ll actually need to create a case study.
Consider partnering with a complementary business to divide the workload, or outsource if doing it yourself isn’t feasible.50. Links Your Competitors Have
Use a tool like Ahrefs, find out what links your competitors have and target those sites through manual outreach, guest blogging, or interviews.Final Thoughts
While the reputation of the practice has suffered over the years due to risky tactics that no longer work, link building isn’t a dirty word.
Link building is an exchange of value – how can you and a site owner help each other?
What can you offer in exchange for a link?
If you look at link building through this lens, you will be more successful and earn higher-quality links that can up-level your SEO value for good.
Featured Image Credit: Paulo Bobita
Let’s face it: link building is tough.
And it’s only getting harder.
Long gone are the days when you can get away with buying links, yet links remain one of the top 3 ranking factors.
If you want to rank in 2023, you need a great link profile pointing to your domain.
However, given the fact that earning links isn’t getting any easier, it can often be hard to know where to focus your efforts to gain maximum returns.Say Hello to Content Marketing
For those running SEO campaigns in the majority of industries, your best approach to earning links is going to be through content marketing.
However, on its own, that can mean many different things.
To some, content marketing means nothing more than running an ongoing guest blogging campaign.
To others, using data-driven studies or even infographics is what first springs to mind.
Content marketing is a minefield.
But the good news?
You can approach it in so many different ways and still drive success in terms of link acquisition.
No two SEO professionals are likely to handle their content-led link building campaigns the same way.
However, to inspire you to try your hand at a new tactic, here’s a look at 11 ways to build links through content marketing, categorized by the budget required to undertake the approach.
(Note: ‘Budget’ refers to the amount needed to produce the content, not in terms of buying links, something which is strongly discouraged.)Low-Budget Content Marketing Techniques
Are your link building efforts limited by your available budgets?
Perhaps you’re a startup who understands the benefits of SEO, yet don’t yet have the budget to go all out and hire a whole team of your own?
On the other hand, maybe you’re an agency that is looking at ways to grow the link profile for a client without needing to ask them for any extra monetary investment?
Here are five content marketing techniques which only need a minimal budget to execute, with the main resource requirement here being time and knowledge with the availability of a graphic designer to add extra visual appeal to content ideal if available but by no means essential.1. Case Studies
If you’re doing great work, why not tell the world about it?
Others love to hear how their peers go about their work and there’s a lot which can be learned from a well put-together case study.
Once you begin to share a case study across social media and within your networks, your insight into the processes becomes valuable and you typically won’t struggle to utilize these to earn links from industry publications.2. Expert Contributions
At least one expert works at every business. Many businesses have multiple experts to draw expertise from.
Experts are one of the most valuable assets which can be used from a content marketing perspective.
Too many marketers assume that a linkable asset has to be “something” (e.g., an infographic, a blog post, an ebook), when in fact, people can be one of the most attractive to publishers.
Journalists typically aren’t subject experts, however, they need to utilize specialists to add weight to their articles.3. Expert Roundups
Although expert roundups might not be quite as effective as they once were, they remain a cost-effective way to earn links from bloggers and specialists.
For maximum link earning using this technique, assess whether a blogger or expert is actively linking out to resources which feature themselves while pulling together a list of prospects to touch base with regarding contributions.
A word of warning here: for the best results when using this approach, don’t waste time responding to requests which you’re not a specialist in. This happens all too often and rarely results in coverage. Stay specialist, however, and it’s a cost and time effective way to land top-tier links.
A top tip here, however, is to ensure you actually are speaking with experts. This shouldn’t be a tactic which you abuse attracting contributions from anyone even remotely connected to the topic.4. Interviews
While interviews can be time-consuming to arrange and pull together, if you’re able to interview complementary industry experts and host on your blog, this can be a great way to earn links.
When running an interview, focus your questions on topics which you know your wider audience are genuinely interested in.
If so, again, you’ve got something of value which you can outreach to other relevant publishers to earn links.
Notice the trend of adding value here?
You don’t need to be securing the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk to interview, however. Start small but talk to a specialist.5. Long-Form Guides
Whether you’re in B2B or B2C, long-form educational guides (referred to by some as “power pages”) can be a great way to earn links from both resource pages and contextually.
You guessed it: because longer content typically adds value to a topic and contains information that others want to link to.
The first step here is understanding the questions your audience is asking – forming a basis for guides which you can develop to answer these better than any other resource out there (take a look at those which rank in top 5 positions).
Use the likes of AnswerThePublic, Quora, and even Google Autocomplete to begin to understand the questions being asked in your industry and act as seeds of inspiration to write guides around.Mid-Budget Content Marketing Techniques
If you’re lucky enough to have a budget available for content marketing of a few hundred dollars per month, or the availability of senior-level, in-house designers and PR experts, your arsenal of techniques can begin to expand, and you’ll be in a position to explore additional ways to earn links through your content campaigns.6. Collaborate on a Content Campaign
If you’re looking to earn links from new audiences and double up on resources, consider collaborating with a complementary (not competing) brand on a content campaign.
Let’s say you’re doing SEO for a bed retailer. How about teaming up with a road safety charity to raise awareness on the risks of drowsy driving?
You’re able to highlight your expertise through stating the importance of getting a great night’s sleep while the charity is able to add insight into the wider dangers and stats.
With two marketing teams promoting the content, in many cases to very different audiences, this can be an effective way to maximize the success of a campaign.7. Infographics
Even though high-quality infographics still can be great for link building, the reputation of infographics has taken a hit in recent years.
So many low-quality infographics did the rounds a few years back.
Today, publishers want to see something that truly stands out before they’ll ever consider covering it and linking out.
The main thing to consider here: what’s the story?
Simply producing a listicle in infographic format probably won’t cut it anymore.
That said, a unique infographic which contains actionable takeaways can still an attractive asset for publishers and a fantastic way to earn links from both top-tier publishers and bloggers.8. Local PR
Even if you’re a national or an international brand, don’t turn your back on local publications.
Local newspapers and online publications (as an example, Lancashire Business View, an online and print publication which connects businesses in the county of Lancashire, UK) are typically great places to do one of two things:
Land news coverage.
What must be remembered is that in many cases, local publications are stretched for resources. This means they, in many cases, welcome high-quality content and stories for two reasons:
They’re geared up to share local success stories.
It’s typically easy work for them to take a well-written press release or article, make a few small edits, and publish as is.
It’s easy to overlook these opportunities as you reach out to the bigger publications, but local links are typically much easier wins while still retaining a great level of authority and relevancy to a business.9. Whitepapers & Research Papers
If you’re in a position to conduct research of your own and put together a whitepaper, this can be a fantastic way to earn industry-specific links.
Why? Because you’re adding value and giving a fresh insight into a topic.
Now, in many cases, this is more relevant to B2B companies than B2C, however, that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.
Why not consider teaming up with a local university and conducting research into a topic relevant to the products which you sell?
Whether that’s kitchen gadgets and you’re considering research into food and nutrition or, going back to an earlier example, a bed retailer conducting research into sleep habits.
Working with university students often sees little financial investment required from your end, simply time, on the grounds that they will likely be doing it as part of their studies.
Once complete, reach out and promote to industry-relevant press and so long as there’s a real story, data, and insight available, it can be a great way to earn fantastic links in significant volumes.High-Budget Content Marketing Techniques
If you’re one of the few who has higher budgets available to allocate toward content marketing campaigns (typically, we’re talking more than $2,000 per campaign or a large team of in-house resources), you can drive some great results by doing things a little differently and thinking more akin to PR than SEO.
Don’t forget, here, that ideas are everything and, when working with higher budgets, it’s more important than ever to fully sanity check and analyze your ideas before putting them into production.10. Build Your Personal Brand & Become the ‘Go To’ Expert
Being totally honest with you here, this isn’t for the light-hearted.
Building a personal brand and establishing yourself as the ‘go to’ expert in an industry isn’t easy. It takes time. Lots of time.
But, when done right, can be very effective, yet not something which most would consider an SEO tactic.
Think of it this way:
If you’ve taken the time to build an audience who consider you as one of the thought leaders in your industry, that’s a fantastic pull.
Offer to write a guest post or monthly column for a publication? If you’re a known expert, they’ll snap your hand off.
Respond to a HARO request as an already respected industry figure? You can almost guarantee that it’ll be your response which is used.
A personal brand is valuable and is an amazing asset from a link building perspective.
Take the time to study what the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, Social Chain’s Steven Bartlett or MobileMonkey’s Larry Kim have done to build their personal brands through a combination of video content, social media, column writing, and public speaking.
You’ll soon start to get some ideas as to how you can do this for yourself, looking with a longer-term view of using your brand to land links.11. Surveys
Surveys can cost big bucks to conduct, but they give you something which no one else can get – unique data.
If you’re able to pull together stories backed by your own data, collected through a survey, you’re positioning your content as highly attractive to newspapers, industry publications, and the like.
That said, the stories and results of the survey must be interesting.
Before jumping in and investing in a survey (don’t forget you ideally need at least 2,000 respondents for the press to consider it a fair piece of research), take the time to read 8 Tips for Creating PR Surveys.
One final note on surveys: be prepared to follow up outreach with a link reclamation campaign as this approach will often result in large numbers of unlinked brand mentions.Conclusion
Content marketing remains one of the most effective (and potentially scalable) ways to earn links to support your SEO campaign.
You just need to focus on one main thing, regardless of the tactics which you use:
Ensuring you’re adding value at all times!Summary
Timeframe: Every month
Results detected: 2-6 months
Average links sent per month: 20
A survey maker
Content marketing can work for you, no matter your budget. Great content increases brand awareness and authority and should bring benefits long after its publishing date. Plus, it is and will continue to be a top Google ranking factor for a long time to come.
As long as you know what your target audience wants and needs, you should be able to create assets that drive traffic, rankings, links, and (hopefully) conversions.
Featured Image Credit: Paulo Bobita
Eric Enge, of Stone Temple Consulting, recently published a new study confirming that backlinks still matter. This research supports Andrey Lipattsev’s assertion that links are one of the top two search ranking factors. The key takeaway from the report is “When you aren’t facing page relevance or quality issues, links can, and do, continue to significantly impact rankings.”
Equally important, however, is the likelihood that links will continue to matter for a long time. Matt Cutts indicated as recently as May 2014 that “I think backlinks still have many, many years left in them.” I know from personal experience that just a few relevant high trust / high authority links can move the dial.The Challenge
“Publish great content that is relevant to your target audience (and will naturally attract links).” Have you ever seen this (…) happen (not in theory, in reality) in the history of web for small businesses and without reciprocal link?
As someone who works with small to medium-sized businesses, I hear this all the time. The good news is that it is possible to attract relevant links, naturally, to a commercial website. No reciprocal link required. It boils down to having the right content, finding the right audience, and then reaching that audience.The Approach
From my experience, the best approach for attracting relevant links is to develop a resource center on your website. It doesn’t require a sexy product or service – nearly any niche or vertical works. In addition to attracting links, this gives you the opportunity to build trust and authority.
Following are some good examples of resource centers. Use these as a starting point for developing ideas for your own site. I have no affiliation with any of these websites:
Annuity FYI: The center is filled with articles and guides covering a variety of retirement planning and annuity-related topics.
Safewise: They created a “resource library” offering guides, tips and best practices for keeping homes and communities safe.
Square One Insurance: Their impressive “Home and personal safety resource centre” provides tips on how to protect your family and home
Car Care: The entire website is a resource center. Run by the non-profit Car Care Council it is probably the best example of all. It features a combination of content ranging from articles to guides to schedules and even how-to videos.What Goes into a Resource Center?
The ideal content for a resource center is useful information. In many cases, the content will need to be developed by an expert. This isn’t a place to dump $3 outsourced SEO articles. This is where you provide real information that someone could find useful.
Start with a wireframe – the chúng tôi Example looks like this:
“Car Care Resources” focuses on
Car Care Guide
Vehicle Systems Overview
Do It Yourself
Car Care Tips
Car Tips and Videos
“Car Care Service Schedules” focuses on
Custom Service Schedule
General Service Schedule
“Car Care Videos” focuses on
How To Videos
Note: If this were a retail site, there might be an opportunity to mix in product videos, but keep in mind this is a resource center – not a sales center. The less “retail” the center is, the better the chance of attracting links from high trust / high authority websites.
“Go Green” focuses on
Steps to a “Greener” Car
The Aftermarket Green Story
What’s new in Green for Cars
Additional Articles in Green
National Car Care Month in April
Fall Car Care Month in October
“Industry Toolbox” focuses on
An aggregation of Press Releases republished on the website
This wireframe example could be modified to fit almost any business. Developing the wireframe is a fluid process. You may find that you need to modify it as you drill down for specific content ideas.Drilling Down for Content Ideas
Look for content with a proven track record. Content that has demonstrated the ability to attract links from multiple sources. The fastest way to find that kind of content is through the use of a content discovery tool like BuzzSumo or ahrefs’ Content Explorer, as shown below:
When you find content that has several linking domains and good organic traffic, you have a winner. What constitutes “several” and “good” will vary by campaign – there is no set standard. Once you do your research, it should become apparent.Finding an Audience
One might think that promoting content on social media is a good way to acquire links. According to a 2023 study by Moz & BuzzSumo, there is “NO overall correlation of shares and links, implying people share and link for different reasons.” Email outreach is still the best method for acquiring relevant and powerful links.
The first step for an email outreach campaign is to develop a list of targeted pages where you would like your link to appear.
Start your list building by mining the links pointing to the original content. The top three backlink tools are the Moz Open Site Explorer, Majestic Site Explorer and ahrefs Site Explorer. One can debate which is “best”, but any of the three will work.
Follow up by mining competitor backlinks, using a tool like the Moz Link Competition tool or ahref’s Link Intersect
Keep in mind that Google only shows a small sample of links – less than you will find with 3rd party tools. That said, the quality of the links disclosed by Google is likely to be good.
Finally, use Advanced Search Operators to find resource pages on authority sites. Two of the best searches for resource discovery are:
“keyword” site:.org intitle:”resources” -inurl:pdf -inurl:ppt -inurl:doc
“keyword” site:.org intitle:”links” -inurl:pdf -inurl:ppt -inurl:docEmail Outreach
The approach to email outreach is what separates the pros from the amateurs. If you want to succeed, the best email template to follow is none. There is no cookie cutter email template that will work for every link request. To improve your chances of getting a link from email outreach:
Prove that you are a human and not a robot – Don’t fall into the pattern of writing an email that emulates every spam link request that you have ever seen.
Read and understand the website: Is there a real possibility of getting a link? If not, move on.
Use a real email account: Not Gmail or another freebie to establish credibility
Subject line: Some websites require a specific subject line when requesting a link. Follow the instructions. Otherwise, personalize the subject line
Start your email by using the site owner’s name
Be specific with your request. Don’t make the webmaster think.
Explain why you are contacting them
Provide the URL that you would like to have a link from
Give a compelling reason to link to your page
For example: Check every resource page that you would like to have a link on for broken links. The compelling reason could be to fix a broken link on a page by using your resource as a replacement
Provide the URL that you would like a link to
In short – show the webmaster that you have invested some time in understanding their website as an incentive for them to invest time and consideration for linking to your site.Is it Worth the Effort?
Creating a good resource center, then performing outreach takes a lot of work. One positive is that you can launch a resource center as a work in progress. This form of content marketing is truly perpetual. Is it worth the effort? Once again, let’s take a look at CarCare.org:
This is what Google is referring to when they preach the gospel of “publish good content to get links.” These are the kinds of links that will stand the test of time. Even without the SEO benefit, these links are great to have as they can potentially drive massive amounts of highly relevant traffic to your website.
Thought you had to send millions of emails to build links?
My agency has never used mass emails to build links.
It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about my own site or our client ones.
Because it’s not the best way to use your time and resources.
In fact, this approach died a few years ago.
“Huh. Okay. But if that’s true – why are marketers still using this method?”
It could be because the Google SERPs are flooded with posts that share outdated link building approaches, such as the mass email outreach approach.
But the truth is, this strategy is completely the wrong way to build links, especially if you don’t want to be branded a spammer in your industry.
With this way of doing things, you’re going to build proper, long-lasting relationships with businesses that help you get to the top of Google search results.Why Sending Millions of Outreach Emails Doesn’t Work
I won’t lie to you – email outreach can work for some marketers.
But I want to show you why it’s just not worth the risk.
First, imagine this scenario:
It’s another Monday morning and you open your mailbox to take a look at the most recent outreach email that you got.
Urgh. Another one from the same company.
Do you want to reply to it or would you rather mark it as spam?
I’m guessing the latter (and possibly set it on fire).
You aren’t alone with your frustration.
Recent research by Brian Dean found that the average response rate is below 9% for these types of emails.
While some of our friends were lucky enough to reach a response rate of 16% by using a more personalized approach, the efficiency of this strategy is questionable.
The low response rate is definitely a problem for me and tons of other marketers, but what all eyes are on are the reputational risks.
This is among the biggest reasons why I don’t think it’s worth it.
Send a few emails and you could get a reputation for being a spammer. And once you’ve got that rep, it’s hard to recover from it.
As the great Warren Buffet said, “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
But why are emails ignored or labeled as spam?
Here are some reasons:Emails Are Sent to the Wrong People
The reason behind their silence is simply because they’re not interested in link buildingYour Emails Are Generic
It stands out a mile that this is a generic email that was sent over to hundreds or even thousands of recipients.
Basically, they know that you don’t care so why should they bother too?Email Messages Are Missing a Unique Value Proposition
The majority of outreach emails are asking for a link to their post since it’s sharing something valuable.
But let’s be honest: There are tons of similar posts that are super in-depth.
So what makes your post so special?How to Stop Wasting Your Time & Start Building Links
Even though we haven’t been involved in sending mass outreach emails, we’ve struggled to acquire links from time to time.
And we know better than most others that in link building there are no silver bullets and magic how-to’s that will guarantee thousands of links.
In fact, I should warn you that link building requires a lot of resources and time.
With the right strategy, though, it’s totally doable.
A winning link building campaign involves the following steps.Step 1: Link Prospecting That Is Focused on Finding Companies That Have the Same Goals as You (e.g., They’re Also Actively Building Links)
Lots of companies want to build links just like you do.
Because they’re in the same position as you, they’ll be more open to doing favors for other brands like yours.
There are a few approaches that will help you find those who are also working hard on improving their SEO performance, and who understand the value of links.
One of the easiest ways is to check the Google SERPs.
Everything starts with keyword research but, in our case, we need to focus on keywords that have a decent level of competition, as well as the number of monthly searches.
Also, we don’t need to have a lengthy list of keywords – around 20 search queries will suffice.
I use SEMrush to find keywords as it allows me to filter out those search queries that have the highest competition and the biggest search volume.
In the screenshot below, you can see the most competitive and popular keywords related to content marketing:
So now we have a list of keywords and it’s time to move to the Google SERPs.
What we need to do is download a list of sites that are currently appearing in the top 100 results.
To make things happen, you could either use the SEOquake plugin or the SEMrush tool.
Personally, I prefer to use the SEOquake plugin as it’s free and has a pretty straightforward interface.
If you decide to go with SEOquake, don’t forget to adjust your search settings to get all the results on one page:
After this, simply switch on SEOquake and export the list of sites that are appearing by a keyword that you searched for.
Once you’ve exported all the relevant URLs, you need to separate those who are actively building links.
To get this information, I recommend using the Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool, which allows you to analyze up to 200 pages at once.
The most important metrics to use are the number of referring domains and the site’s domain rating (DR).
To spot those who are currently investing heavily in building links, you can use Excel’s custom sort function where you’re asking to show pages that have the lowest site’s DR and the highest number of referring domains.
By using such sorting you’ll be able to see the sites that are currently working hard on building links.
For instance, in the screenshot below you can see the list of pages that have built a solid number of links back to them:
Then, do the same search and analysis for the rest of the keywords that you selected.
Finally, you need to double-check all uncovered URLs to ensure that they’re really building links right now.
The easiest way to do this is to check the Ahrefs graph that shows the growth trend of referring domains back to pages that you uncovered through SERPs analysis.
For instance, if an URL that you’re looking at shows a graph like this, then they’re investing heavily in link building:
Once you’ve got a list of sites that are looking for links, it’s time to make an initial connection with them.Step 2: Connecting With Potential Link Building Partners
Since you don’t have tons of sites that you want to connect with, it definitely does make sense to use a personalized approach rather than sending generic mass emails when establishing link partners.
Because link building is in many ways relationship building.
Therefore, a personalized touch helps a lot.
Moreover, as we saw earlier, sending generic mass emails can get you labeled as a spammer.
What I recommend doing here is using LinkedIn as an ice-breaker.
You can switch to email eventually, but it’s good to make that first connection via LinkedIn.
When you send your initial message, make sure to let them know why you want to connect with them on LinkedIn.
You could, for example, say that you’ve noticed they’ve been working hard on acquiring links back to their site and that you thought there might be some synergy between your respective companies.
Make sure to introduce yourself first, but get to the point as quickly as possible.
Keep your messages friendly, personable but concise. Be direct with what you want because honesty really is the best policy.
After connecting on LinkedIn, you can switch to an email communication where you need to tell them what kind of benefits partnering up with you would bring them.Step 3: Giving Them a Good Reason to Partner up With You
Finally, it’s time to give them a big fat reason to work with you.
What do they get from linking back to your content?
Will they receive links from you back to their content?
Will you deliver awesome content that they can put in front of their audience?
In my experience, the best value proposition is giving them links in exchange for them giving you links.
In other words, reciprocal links.
No one (not even Google) has explicitly said that building links back to your partners on some other sites is something that could harm your SEO visibility.
An easy way to return links back to your partners is by writing guest posts.
With a guest post, you can create relevant and useful content that both of you can share.
This means you both gain more traffic and increased exposure to wider audiences.
However, if you don’t think it’s a good idea then there’s still a way to sort this out by joining some industry groups and keeping your eye open to link building opportunities that are popping up here and there.
And, in that case, you’ll simply be sharing those opportunities with your partners.
If you’re within a B2B niche, the right place to find such opportunities will be by becoming a part of the B2B bloggers boost group on Facebook.Conclusion
So, mass email outreach doesn’t often work if you want to build links.
Or, at least, it can easily put your reputation at risk.
But as we’ve seen, there is a different approach that is friendlier, more personable and way more powerful at developing links and relationships with other businesses.
All screenshots taken by author, March 2023
Ask for Flexible Working Hours – In today’s corporate scenario, bid to meet deadlines and desired quality. How could an employee create a good work-life balance? Many studies have highlighted this as a major cause of frustration.
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However, Human Resource managers are now more responsive toward their employee’s needs. They are designing many plans to keep their employees motivated and retain their satisfaction level. One is the flexible work plan.
These plans are the benefits employees enjoy adjusting between their working and personal activities. The flexible work options constitute flexible working hours, fewer work weeks, job sharing, or working from home. This option increases productivity, reduces absenteeism, and boosts job satisfaction.
For instance, the corporate headquarters of Best Buy has created an ultimate flexible work environment. This is an initiative on what is known as Results on Work Environment (ROWE), and this system works very well for them.
Employees work whenever they feel like it and wherever they want to work under this system. This resulted in a 35 percent increase in the company’s productivity as per the report of the June 2007 issue of HR Magazine found by Seth Stevenson in Slate.
Providing a flexible work schedule means employers are putting their trust in their employees, and they, in turn, are showing their commitment to increasing their productivity without any force, pressure, or stress.
Employees feel satisfied as they can easily fulfill their obligations and duties towards the company.
However, a flexible work schedule only works for some organizations. Many companies do not have this option nor prefer this kind of scheme. So enthusiastic employees have to apply for the same. They must show their commitment, dedication, and responsibility toward their work. They must be tactful in their approach, or any negligence can create distrust and annoyance in the boss.
Consider the suggestion below. They will help you get your desired schedule and increase your credibility and trust in the employer.Find out what kind of Job Flexibility you require.
The common options are flexible, working on flexible hours and not 9 to 5 or 10 to 6 jobs and setting the schedule.
You have to analyze your feasibility and the conditions in which you are and decide on the kind of flexibility you need and what would be best for you so that you can balance your home and work easily.You are very well aware of what you are asking about
It is practical and logical to seek the permission with justified and logical reasons. You need to define carefully what kind of alternate schedule you want to ask for and why. The scheme has many options, which can be easily customized too.
The Family Flexible Plan: As a parent, you need time to spend with your children and having to drop and pick them up from school. The flexible hours you get can give you time to devote to your child, and you could work when your child goes to bed.
The Shifted Schedule: Not all employees feel comfortable working during the conventionally set flexible hours. Some people feel comfortable working in the morning, and many love to work late at night. You will be more focused, energized, and motivated when you work as per your comfort. Flexibility is also best when working with colleagues or serving clients in different time zones.
Three or Four days of work: Some employees work for three or four days a week but still contribute to their company and work for the team. They fix the appointments or schedule the meetings. Flexible working on specific days would enable them to plan their timing and give quality and productivity.
Plan for quality and output: Many employers value face time. But their idea that the hours spent in the office give quality is partially correct. An employee with flexible working hours could give more output as he would have his freedom and space, and in return, he would be compensated well in terms of promotion or raise in salary or increments.
Make Your Proposal Lucrative: Find specific examples of how the flexible schedule can benefit the company. If you offer to work a few hours from home and in an office, you can explain how that would save the company 20 percent of your salary and how it would help manage with the other time zones. Make sure to answer in a way that focuses more on the company’s benefit than your own personal needs.
Get An Appointment for a Meeting: Fix an appointment to sit across the table with your boss to discuss your proposal. During the conversation, put more focus on the trial period. Your boss will willingly accept your proposal if he feels this arrangement would be more profitable and give results.Analyze and Rate your Performance:
Make a critical study about your performance and analyze how you are performing, whether you are giving quality work or not, before asking for flexible work hours.
If your performance is not outstanding, start working flexibly to improve it. As Louis E. Boone and David L. Kurtz found out in their Contemporary Business 2010 update, “Flexitime is an accommodation, not an entitlement.”
And further, “Slackers and clock-watchers won’t benefit from the doubt”. If there is improvement in your performance and your boss is satisfied, then approach him with the option. You can explain your performance boost if you work in the morning or a peaceful environment. Also, explain the rest of your time to devote to your children or perform other errands.
If your employer feels your concern is genuine, you are hard-working and will give your best. He would surely consider your request to see your returns and output.Find out how other departments are managing their working hours
One or two of your colleagues in the other departments easily take their work, gossiping, sipping a cup of tea, or merely chatting. You are surprised they are getting more increments, and the boss is quite satisfied with their work.
They work when they feel more comfortable, and at ease, and in this way, they give more productivity, even though they are merely lingering here and there the rest of the time.
By giving their example, you can convince your boss too for giving you flexibility and space, which can increase your output as you will feel more mentally fresh and motivated.
In the remaining hours, you can spend your time upgrading your skills and can also go home early to attend to your child or perform personal work. You can also involve your co-workers in the proposal, hoping they can benefit from it.Make a plan
Arrange the tasks that you can perform offsite and note down when you will be leaving the office and your mode of communication.
You need to compromise on many things. Sometimes, you have to share your office space with others. Likewise, you have to select another day instead of Friday to take a day off.
If you think that flexible working would reduce your chance of promotion or your incentives might get deductive, spend more time in the office. You can spend on other weekdays and finish the required task.
Make an impression on your boss that you are responsible and devoted to your work and organization.
While planning, consider all the benefits you would get or what your company will gain by your decision. Write a final proposal describing your plan, and its benefits, address all the justifying reasons, and present it to your boss. He might require a written proposal to discuss at the managerial level.
In your proposal, be upbeat about your work. Instead of saying, “I just can’t commute long-distance”, write down that by working for two or three days from home, you would be less stressed out, and you can devote more time to work in your home.Be Ready for Any Situation
You also need to find out the possible methods to manage fluctuations. For instance, if the company is increasing its business, you must discuss adjusting to the new change.
Also, find out how it would be possible for you to accommodate meetings or any other events while you are away from the office.Be Ready for Any Kind of Objections
Be ready with all the answers and solutions for any objections your boss might raise on your proposal. For instance, your boss might worry that if you are away, he won’t be able to supervise or communicate with you properly.
In this case, provide a valid answer that you would summarize the tasks during those hours and send you via mail or the best suitable communication channel.
Secondly, you would have all the technologies available for better communication, supervising, coordinating with the team, and providing a better workflow.
If your request is turned down, request flexibility on a trial or temporarily. Your response to each objection should be practiced and thoughtfully answered, which would help you have control over negotiations and increase your confidence.
Make sure that you repeat your points during discussions.Complete All The Pending Tasks
After submitting the proposal, finish all your pending tasks and concentrate on meeting your goals. And your co-workers will not bother you about how many hours you are in the office.
In any corporate office, the only matter is performance. Find out with your boss to ensure they are satisfied with your performance, and never do anything that could go against the boss’s trust in you.
Flexible work schedules are not the norm. They are still increasing. If you sincerely want to discuss the same with your boss, study well about the best possible schedule that meets the company’s needs. Also, present how this new system could enhance your productivity and be profitable for the company.
Once your proposal is accepted, do not show the floppy side of you. It is equally pertinent to continue to show professionalism and meet the company’s standards and expectations. Make your boss feel proud of you. Continue to give respect to your co-workers and regard their needs.Recommended Articles
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