I remember the days when you could submit your site to a handful of directories, create a mediocre microsite with a blog roll, submit a few releases, comment on a few blogspot blogs and suddenly strike gold with your Google Ranking. Those days are far behind us and while it’s difficult to stay up on the ongoing changes to the Google algorithm as a professional; you can’t deny the changes are beneficial as a searcher.
The most effective link building strategy is simple. Get high authority websites to link back to your site. Now making it happen, is where the challenge lies. I’ve highlighted some examples of how to do this but I’ve also highlighted the second most effective (much easier to implement) strategy for building back-links; targetting influencers and blogs. There are also a wide variety of other approaches that can drive links but they aren’t as effective.
The Most Effective SEO Strategies:
Strategy: Use Your Influence
Approach: If someone like Neil deGrasse Tyson asked me to link back to his site do you think he would have to ask twice? Do you think he could send a note to Pete Cashmore and get weekly article in Mashable? I’d assume yes. At the end of the day, if you can establish yourself as a thought leader or an influencer within a specific niche; you’ll have the ability to use your influence to your advantage. Not only does influence present you with leverage to ask people to give you a backlink; it also gives you an opportunity to write guest blogs for high authority websites. An example of someone who used their influence for a guest blog is Ann Smarty, she wrote these posts for Mashable and linked a handful back to her content: Ann Smarty Blog Posts on Mashable. (Read more Backlinking strategies here)
Strategy: Do Something Worth Talking About
Approach: Ah yes, my favourite strategy of them all. Do something that is worth talking about. Whether you’ve raised a seed round for $5M or just launched a new cereal to promote the presidential candidates (Airbnb); do things that will turn the heads of high quality publications and websites. Whether you’ve launched a unique ebook or have published a video that tells an inspiring story – You’ve got an angle to pitch. You’ve established a story and can now approach media outlets with something worth talking about. Too often are websites like TechCrunch met with pitches saying the same story, time and time again. Think outside the box and I’m sure you’ll be able to develop a story or concept that can build backlinks along with your brand.
The approach for this depends on your industry but this example is meant to represent the things you can do that are worth talking about.
The Second Most Effective SEO Strategies:
Following the opportunity that exists with high authority websites is generating back links from influential websites and blogs in your industry.
Strategy: Use Your Relationships
Approach: Before Noah Kagan joined Mint as employee number 5; he presented them with a plan to get coverage and backlinks from a variety of key personal finance, young professional, mom and tech related blogs. Luckily, he had a solid network and relationship within the personal finance crowd and was able to leverage that during his outreach. Beyond the obvious importance of building a relationship; it’s also important to reach out differently. Don’t just send a random email to a blogger asking for a backlink; be original. Here’s a few examples of templates you could use from Neil Patel: The Link Builder’s Guide to Email Outreach.
Strategy: Guest Blogging
Approach: Before diving into guest blogging, it’s crucial that you have something already existing online that demonstrates you have influence, knowledge, writing skills or a high quality product to offer. This could range from a personal blog, a few answers on Quora or a fancy title that provides you with a bit of leverage to look like an expert. From there, identify the high-influence blogging opportunities that would provide you with a chance to not only create valuable backlinks but also put your brand in front of an audience you may not typically get in front of. Once you’ve identified the opportunity; build a relationship by sharing their content (mention them) commenting on their posts (provide solid feedback) and exchanging organic dialogue. After a month of relationship building, look for the right opportunity to make your guest blogging pitch. Keep your email short, share links to existing content and attach the most kick-ass blog post you’ve ever written.
Strategy: Focus on content that ties to (1) Value and/or (2) Ego.
Another way to generate links from influential websites and blogs is by creating content that will provide value, spark controversy or stroke the ego. An example of a valuable blog post would be one that provides a detailed answer to a question they may have asked on Twitter or Quora. It could also be a blog post or resource that is built to evolve something they wrote or created in the past. Let them know you created it and they may link back to your content at the end of that original post. Ego driven blog posts are extremely successful in generating back links. If you can create a list of the “Top 50 Bloggers using Quora” and follow up with each of them saying congrats on making the list and here’s (1) a link so you can read it and (2) here’s an HTML snippet you can place on your blog that acts as a badge of honour; you’ll have at least 10 back links.
These approaches are what I’d consider the most effective. While they aren’t going to happen over night; tactics like this require deep analysis into identifying the appropriate keywords, influencers and what sites are linking back to your competition. Recently, Matt Cutts expressed that submitting a consistent stream of releases to PR Syndicates would no longer generate the kind of results they did a few years ago (See here: Why You Should Forget Press Releases). As a searcher; this is awesome. As a digital marketer; it puts us in a spot that requires us to create great content.
Generating back links are easy but generating quality back links is very hard. That said, Twitters Founder Evan Williams said it best: “It’s pretty simpe: hard things are valuable; easy things are not so valuable.” The strategies highlighted above are definitely hard but they also work.
Originally shared on Quora.