<< by on June 8th, 2010
This SMX Advanced session promises to go beyond the usual tips for creating link bait. We’ll hear stories about how some valuable and hard-to-get links have been won. Our panelists this afternoon are:
- Chris Bennett- 97th Floor
- Arnie Kuenn- Vertical Measures
- Debra Mastaler- Alliance-Link
- Roger Montti- martinibuster.com
- Gill Reich- Answers.com
Roger Montti began the session by discussing some of his link building tactics for B2B sites. Roger uses different search engine syntax operators to qualify the results he gets, and he uses those results as potential resources for link building. For example, to find other sites with similar content to your own, conduct a search in Google for allintitle: “keyword” (where [keyword] is whatever phrase you’re interested in). The resulting listings will show you other sites that you can either approach for links wherever appropriate or examine backlinks for even more link sources.
Roger offered the caveat that researching the backlinks of direct competitors may have a downside. He says it’s better to have your own set of unique backlinks than merely a copy of your competitors.
Among the other tactics Roger suggested were joining industry associations to get free .org links and buying links with caution. Note that there can be serious dangers to buying links, though. Danny Sullivan interjected that if you must buy links, make sure that the company does not solicit links directly from white-hat SEOs like himself and Matt Cutts. (True story, apparently).
Arnie Kuenn then discussed how to be smart specifically about targeted link requests. Many of us have received an inauthentic-sounding form letter email requesting a link in a blog post or article. They’re generally pretty sad and not very compelling. Here are some methods of shaking up those link request emails if you have to ever write any:
- Do research before you contact the site owner- on the site and on the site owner herself. You should at least try to have a contact name and personalized contact info. Kuenn takes it a bit further, suggesting what kind of amounts to mild Facebook stalking. (And I’m in no way judging!) Learn about the site owner- what’s their personality? What are there other interests? What could get their attention, let them know you’re a human being, and establish a friendly rapport?
- Once you find a desirable source for inbound links, run a broken link report on that page. Provide that information to the site owner as a kind of service. Then mention that the site owner may want to add a link on the page to your content as a relevant resource. Site owners may actually appreciate the broken link notice.
- Use social media to get to know them. Not only does this tip piggyback on the first technique (knowing your site owner), but it’s also a method for dealing with site owners in a mutually beneficial way. Offer to exchange a link on their site with a tweet about the story from your Twitter account. If you have a large following on Twitter, site owners might be happy to give you a link in order to get traffic from your contacts.
Chris Bennett talked about using infographics and doing blog outreach to cultivate inbound links. An infographic is a type of digital asset that takes complex ideas and data and represents them in an easy-to-digest graphic form. They create interest and tend to go viral. Good link bait.
Chris also suggests guest blogging and sharing your content on others’ sites. You get a link from another relevant domain, and the other site owner gets the extra traffic that will come pouring in from your social network when you tweet the story.
The theme of Gil Reich‘s presentation was “You Rock!” Gil insisted that it’s ok to brag sometimes; get people to link to you by simply telling them how great you are. There are many ways to do this:
- Take advantage of the badges you receive as a participant in an industry event to promote your appearance at the show and build your reputation as a subject matter expert.
- Don’t neglect testimonials on your site.
- Create your own awards or honors, and award them to the content of others in your industry. They will like you.
- While it’s definitely preferable to be positive and build people up, you can also engage in civilized debates with mutual enemies” ” you share with most of the rest of your industry. You’ll only get support from the people you care about impressing.
- Instead of focusing on how Google is defining your popularity in your community, just chase the community.
Debra Mastaler started off by sharing her real-life run-in with the Queen of England. It’s a very cool story.
She also had some really great tips for cultivating links. Debra’s approach to link building is to create good content and then go after the media to try to get it covered and linked to.
- Use dapper.net to create your own RSS feeds on your content so that they follow your content to other third party sites that may re-publish it. You can also submit your content through RSS directories.
- Syndicate your content. The types of assets that Debra finds are really going viral these days are:
- Podcasts. You can turn most of your existing media into a podcast. At the end of the presentation, ask listeners to link back to your site if they enjoyed the content. Create a media center and submit your media to podcast directories. Most importantly, submit them to iTunes to get lots of ears.
- News streams like Twitter.
- User-generated content and guest authorship. Right now, many site owners are really looking for content to host on their site. Try the tool at www.soloseo.com/tools/linksearch.html to find leads for site owners who might want to host your content.
- Widgets. For an pretty affordable price, you can create a widget that might be useful to members of your industry. Submit your widgets to special widget directories, offer them to your current customers, do a press release, and add them to your Facebook fan page. Most importantly, make sure they are hosted on your site!
The Takeaway: Danny Sullivan may have summed it up when he commented that “Link building is relationship building.” In today’s environment, compelling content is what drives links. Whether you’re guest blogging, creating “hot” types of content that are likely to go viral, or inventing your own industry-related award – you are engaging with others in a community in an effort to simultaneously cultivate links.