This is a guest post from Jacob Dawson. You can read the full bio and follow him at the end of this (exceptionally good) post.
Anybody who conducts SEO knows that the industry is currently undergoing a paradigm shift, caused by Google’s continuously shifting algorithms (Panda and Penguin anyone?) and increased emphasis on quality content and social signals to assess search query relevance. What does this mean for SEO practitioners? Well, it means that you either shift your techniques and embrace the new methods of competing for the top spots on the SERPs, or you remain stubborn and slowly fade away into irrelevance.
We all know the standard link-building techniques that have given SEO a bad wrap; forum links, directories, blog comments and paid links. If you’re still only working on any of these: STOP! Google is actively trying to improve the state of the internet (a noble goal!), and one way it can do this is by encouraging websites (and SEO’ers by proxy) to create compelling, high-quality content made for people, not robots. The following list is designed to give you a list of strategies that you can use to improve the state of the internet as well as gain high-quality, organic links.
One caveat before we start: This isn’t 10 Easiest Link Building Techniques, so if you’re looking for quick wins you’re in the wrong place. These strategies take more time and effort than old-school SEO, but in return the rewards are greater. If you’re ready to embrace the new wave of SEO, read on…
1. Weekly Round-ups
People love lists, that’s a fact (hey – you’re reading this aren’t you!). But what they love even more than vanilla-flavoured ‘top X lists’ are resource lists that round up the freshest content in a particular niche. That’s why regular lists like John Jantsch’s Duct-tape Marketing ‘Weekend Favs’ gets well over 100 retweets every time it’s published, and on top of that, often the platforms that are promoted in the round-up will link back to you as they tell their own audience about it.
2. Utilize Software to Capitalize on Copied Content
If you write great content, it’s highly likely that websites on the net will copy it verbatim without proper attribution. In the past there wasn’t much you can do about this, and no way to take advantage of it, but nowadays there are platforms such as Tynt that can automatically embed a URL linking back to your original content, meaning that content snatching can actually benefit you.
3. Write Definitive Posts
As with the above, when you write great content it’s more likely that it will be shared (and reprinted wholesale!). One way to focus on creating content that your audience actually wants to read and share is to write definitive posts – pick a niche in your industry or a topic that has not yet been completely clarified, do some in-depth research and write the ‘be-all-to-end-all’ post about that topic. An example might be Rick DeJarnette’s ‘Definitive Guide to Google Authorship Markup’ posted over at Search Engine Land. His article now sits just below two of Google’s own recommendations, and delivers truckloads of traffic and links, every single day.
4. Leverage ‘Tweet-to-Download’
If you’re not familiar with ‘Tweet-to-Download’ widgets, essentially they enable you to offer your audience a piece of content (a song, for example) in exchange for a tweet. Your audience can only download the content once they’ve tweeted, and you’re able to create the message that will be posted on Twitter, including links. This is a mutual exchange of value where everyone wins, and you’ll also find that a percentage of your audience embeds a link to the content itself, increasing inbound links as well as social media presence!
I personally use and recommend this plugin. – Alex Whalley
5. Create an Industry Award
A great way of receiving links from big players within your industry is to make up an award (for example; “Top 20 Thought Leaders in Inbound-Marketing”), and then promote it within your own channels. If you use Twitter (and you should!), then you can also ‘@’ each of the award winners and be pretty sure that they will link back to your article, retweet you and promote the award on their own Facebook page. If you want to go the extra-mile, create an embeddable badge or graphic that they can display on their site (including a juicy follow link in the code:)
6. Use Google Alerts to Find New Opportunities
To be able to identify new link-building opportunities, you also need to know what people in your industry and related industries are discussing – right now. Setting up Google Alerts is as easy as can be, and gives you a constant stream of relevant data. Once you see an alert, you can use that information to either offer an expert opinion, create an attractive and up-to-date piece of information about the developments, or riff of the news with a shareable piece of content. You can also see if your company is being mentioned by anyone on the net, and if it is, you can attempt to obtain a link by offering commentary or additional information that can help them. See – you can be nice and profit at the same time!
7. Google+ Profile Links
Firstly – if you’re not on Google+, then jump on it. You need to be leveraging Google Authorship to build your authority on the net and increase your click-through rates. Secondly – did you know that Google+ profile links are Follow? That’s all I’m saying for now…
8. Shareable content
The term ‘viral’ is really overused, but it’s true that there are certain kinds of content that lend themselves to sharing between an interested audience. You’ve probably heard all about the infographic craze, and we all know how quickly a cool video is shared around the office. You can create this kind of content as well, and it’s cheap to do. Maybe you’re not a creative genius, but one way to stand on the shoulders of the giants who have come before you may is to play off an existing piece of content. For example – why don’t you create an industry specific version of ‘Sh*t that X Say’ or ‘What People Think I Do / What I Really Do’?
9. White Papers
Definitive posts are one way to establish authority in an industry and build quality links, but you can also go a step further and write (or commission) a white paper or study on a specific niche within your industry. Yes – this is a lot of work, but creating a piece of high-quality content like this will see link-building opportunities spread over months and even years. Host the paper for download on your site (maybe with a dash of #4) and watch the links explode.
10. Create a Photo Database
Bloggers and content creators can have a hard-time finding low-cost, copyright-free images. If you can’t find the right image for your article, your options are to risk infringement or sign up for a photo-licensing site. With this knowledge, why don’t you set up an industry-specific photo database? You and / or your employees can take good quality photographs with keyword-related names, and offer them to bloggers for free (using Creative Commons) in exchange for a link. Both sides win – you receive attribution links and those that wish to use your photos don’t have to fret about copyright issues.
There you have it – 10 new techniques for building high-quality links and pleasing Google while making the internet a better place. That’s just the beginning – once you begin to think of SEO in this new light, you’ll see that it’s all about creating great content and sharing assets between communities. This is the new wave of SEO, and everybody wins! What are your thoughts on these techniques? Have you tried any of them? What are a few good ones that you think I’ve left out? Let us know in the comments!
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