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Stop Building Links And Start Attracting Them

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October 5  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

Attracting links is a long and sometimes painful journey. It can also be fun, but most importantly, if done right it will lead to links your competition will most likely not duplicate. Why we’ve always been a content marketing firm is because it’s the best way to build a brand and create a true audience from your customers. What we do is not just about getting a link, but getting all the marketing benefits from doing something amazing, unique, or downright viral.

We used to do all sorts of link building and link attraction, but these days we’ve narrowed it down to a set of core tactics that have proven to be the most fruitful. You should of course touch up on your branding and look, along with having these services set front and center, but everything you do should have content marketing as its foundation… Just as always!


Google Alerts & Other Social Mention Monitoring

This tactic has been talked about numerous times from many bloggers including myself, so why bother to bring it up? Because we still see very little utilization of this from our webmaster friends and our clients. While smaller or newer brands might not benefit so much from this, set it up still as you grow and it will play an increasingly larger role in your marketing efforts. Big brands get mentioned all the time and that’s an opportunity for a link, a social mention, or winning over a brand fan.

To be honest, we get at least two dozen solid links for clients across the board just from monitoring who’s talking about them. We or the client engages and it leads to a lot of solid marketing. We’ll go through the tools we like to use in our efforts and the best part is all of them are free! Without making a little section on it, I will recommend Google Alerts to track forums and blogs for mentions of your brand.

SocialMention.com

SocialMention.com is my personal favorite social media monitoring software that lets you do searches on the fly, plus you can set up email alerts. They also have an open API if you want to hack it into your custom in-house tools, and be sure to check in on their trends section if you need some link bait inspiration. I honestly cannot believe they let this sucker go for free, so thanks to the creators for such a great little website.

PinAlerts.com

This is without a doubt the tool of the moment for my social media efforts here at Linkbuildr. I accidentally stumbled across PinAlerts.com recently and have since put it to good use. Since we work with a lot of luxury brands, they’re extremely visual and sites like Pinterest have been put into heavy focus in the past 6 months. What we’ve implemented mainly is a strong interaction with Pinners who submit our clients’ things.

It’s pretty straight forward and still in beta so I’m sure there will be some bugs, but so far it has been a smooth process. We take advantage of it by thanking and following people who are interested in our clients’ products. Everything revolves around connection building, and you never know when you’re going to make friends with an influencer. One of our latest clients has made good “social friends” with some big pinners in their niche and the result has been huge – epic, even. These pinners were so ecstatic to have the actual brand love their stuff, open a line of communication and repin them on a weekly basis. The results from that has netted our client hundreds of thousands of views and enough sales to have easily made it worth their while.

There are a few other features on the way with PinAlerts.com, such as a widget to show off the number of pins you have for your website or blog. You can also snoop on the competition and know who’s pinning their stuff and what’s working well for them. You can even set up alerts for multiple domains, which is great if you’re an agency like us.

Topsy Analytics

I’ve mentioned Topsy nearly 50 times in my articles and I don’t think I’ll ever stop. It’s an insanely nice social search engine that also has another useful feature somewhat hidden in the top navigation called Topsy Analytics. The free version allows you to compare up to three different keywords and get some very interesting data that’s great for research of all kinds. Taking a look at Google Panda vs Google Penguin we can see the social chatter and notice how the spikes correlate with the releases… I know that’s kind of a “duh” discovery, but we’ll use it as an example here.

Amount of Mentions

Top Links In Past 24 Hours

Customer Reviews & Ratings

There are a handful of very authoritative customer review and rating sites out there and they do play a crucial role in helping a customer hit that “buy” button. A few of these sites have been very shady though, and will leave fake negative reviews and try and charge a fee to remove it. Business is an ugly thing at times, but bear in mind that there is always good with the bad, ying and yang, etc etc. I’ve seen a lot of positive results from the feedback on these sites, and the links from them are shown to be quite authoritative.

This is something you can do yourself and while it’s technically a “hand-built” link, you’re never going to get in trouble. The fact is, doing something like this is not about the link as you’re doing “real company sh#t!”. As a consumer, I’ll check sites like these to see how a company is run, and you can bet your bottom dollar that a glowingly positive presence will do good things for your bank account.

While I’m only listing a few, I’ll leave the Google sleuthing up to you to find more, plus each niche may or may not have their own specific review site. If they don’t, then I’d be inclined to hit up the biggest bloggers in your vertical and start getting reviews that are legit. This is a grey area as you may have to transfer payment in one way or another to get things going, so I’ll leave that up to your judgement.

ResellerRatings.com

Here’s the ResellerRatings page for Jewlr.com, which showcases their 6 month history and all sorts of other information about the company. While 100% of their reviews are from 1 time posters all stating 5/5, you should definitely keep in mind that this may look very suspicious to some savvy shoppers. Another downside to this site seems to be the ads for competitors right on your page… Not too huge of a problem, but that’s slightly annoying in my opinion.

Better Business Bureau

I know a lot of companies don’t think highly of this service either, but it does give a nice link as well as providing you with a powerful tool for making customers feel safe. There are certain requirements to get a link back (aka payment in the form of signing up), but since it’s not just for a link, this is not against Google’s TOS. That and you’re just getting a natural site/brand link and I would bet on this being a good link to have in the mix. I’m a huge fan of quality over quantity, so this is one of those that I think does go a long way in regards to establishing trust in your brand. This page also tends to get linked to as you get a BBB badge for your website, plus it’s something I would want linked from, say, your company’s Wikipedia page.

Link Bait All Night Long

There are already thousands of posts on writing and executing link bait, so we’ll see what I can do here to spark something new and help your efforts become more fruitful. The one major mistake we see is pre-planning when it comes to a link bait campaign, as there are a lot of things to get prepped before going live with your content. When we do it (all night long), we make sure we have a large list of social influencers that we’re going to want to help spread our content. This can be done beforehand as well, but don’t be annoyed when you’re asked for a little cash to help spread the word; there’s nothing wrong with paying for a Tweet or Facebook wall post to the right people.

Get Social With Your Link Bait

What exactly do I mean by that? Well, try including key social influencers in your post, whether that be another brand or a person out in the social web. The most obvious example that’s done quite a bit are crowd sourced interviews, but it doesn’t have to always be content in that format. We always try and embed a Tweet, use an image, or reference someone else’s content. This way when we’re Tweeting it heavily we can @mention them and hope they take notice. You’d be surprised how often they’ll retweet and even link to your post.

Infographics

Infographics are still a great link bait tactic that, while often overdone, still stand to gain you some huge link loving if your vertical hasn’t utilized them too much already. We are seeing a huge amount of junk infographics being put out there just for the links and not the end user, and this will in turn bite a lot of companies in the arse. I hope you’ve read our post on marketing infographics as it will give you just about all the fire power you’ll need to see success with this tactic.

As I mentioned above in being social, we’ve even mentioned/referenced other brands in our clients’ infographics to incite more social shares, and that works as well. Only the bravest of clients will try it, but we applaud their openness to do something different from everyone else.

Last but not least, don’t bother doing something cheap and boring. Make sure your next infographic gets “knocked out of the park” in terms of links and social buzz. Make sure that topic has never been covered before, and utilize something different like video or HTML5 to make it interactive. Take a look at how Jacob O’Neil used HTML5 on his “Cheetah Infographic” to showcase a whole bunch of interesting points. This was one amazing infographic that definitely got noticed:

Viral Videos

A really well done “viral video” is something that can bring in an ROI unlike anything you’ve seen before. A lot of the big brands we deal with still don’t want to throw down $10k on the production to do something like this, and that to me is a huge mistake. For that amount of cash, any company with a decent marketing budget should attempt this at least once. The amount of natural links, social followers and brand awareness (aka brainwashing) that can be achieved through this tactic simply cannot be matched. Let’s take Samsung’s recent attempt under the “SEOmicroscope” here and see just what kind of awesome sauce was splashed all over the web. To be fair though, I imagine this commercial cost a lot more than $10k but regardless, it gets my point across:

Whomever came up with this commercial, most likey James himself, did a good job. While it’s nothing overly innovative, it’s easy prey when you combine a celebrity and a bunch of random cool stuff happening. While they might have been trying too hard to be the next “Old Spice”, they certainly got mad reach with this viral video. Let’s take a look at their links:


Link Data From: Ahrefs.com

This video launched in mid-August, and you can certainly see a significant jump in links when it hit the web. Obviously Samsung is not a company ever looking to build links as this just happens naturally. The viral video is content generated for the end user, and not Google or any other search engine. They already have quite the social following so all they had to really do is put the video out, sit back and let the good times roll… Well, that and James Tweet’d it as well, which would have been enough to make it go viral anyways.

My guestimation on how many links this video generated for Samsung would be at least 3,000 – and brand mentions well over 100,000! The beauty of this ad is it reaches across many verticals, so link diversity and social follower diversity is going to be through the roof. What do I mean? Well, this video has been embedded and links to Samsung on celeb sites, tech sites, advertising sites and just about every Android blog and forum in the world. I’m sure I missed out on a few, but you get the idea.

Broken & Future Links

Broken link building is still a hugely viable option for a lot of companies and all I can really do is remind you folks to re-look, or start this out, soon. So many amazing marketing people in the industry have already blogged on this topic to death, so don’t miss out on reading the following posts:

If you’re wanting a quick and easy tool to find broken links on a page, I recommend checking out “Check My Links” which will do the job quickly. It’s for Chrome only.

WTF Are Future Links?!

I finished reading Jon Cooper’s latest post entitled “How I Use Content For Link Building” and piped in on the comments on “future content bait”. There are always new products/events/things coming out and there will always be a need for a few good content pieces on those topics. If you can see the patterns in other people’s successful content marketing, you should be able to come up with your own ideas that will eventually get linked to (thus the term “future links”). I know that’s a strange sentence to read, so let’s go over some ideas and examples.

  • Resource lists that will be helpful for users
  • Get a video review done the hour that product/topic goes live and provide an embed code
  • Instructions on how to hack/modify/tweak a product
  • Roundup posts of other people’s most useful content on the topic at hand

Broken Link Sniping Like A Boss

This tactic is something I came up with a year ago with one of our clients, and luckily had their programming team code up a little tool to do this for them. Basically, get a list of all the most linked content your competitors have and take note if it ever goes down or moved. This is a huge opportunity to jump on that and get the right content done and get contacting the webmaster to replace your fresh and working content in place of their link.

Sometimes brands get bought out, they go out of business, or for whatever other reason content might get taken down. If you can be alerted to this right away, you’re in for some juicy links that should do wonders for your link profile and referral traffic. I imagine there are already public tools out there for this, so please let me know and I’ll mention it here.

#Protip Image Links Are Awesome

Visual content will never stop being a valuable link attraction method and there are all sorts of ways to attract links with your images. Definitely first read Jason Acidre’s post “10 Ways to Use Images for Link Building” as well as our outdated/slightly spammy but somewhat useful “Link Building With Your Pictures“. Two major areas of focus for us are usually spent on:

TinEye Reverse Image Search

For all your current images that may be used by other sites out there without your permission, this is a blessing more so than a burden. While a lot of large brands will send their lawyers out to seek and destroy, let’s stop this and try TinEye to find mad link building opportunities. This tactic is great for building more site/brand links without coming off as spammy or unnatural. After all, your content should = links!

Google Image Search

The amount of times I use this method in a month is beyond ridiculous. It’s so bloody easy to find link building opportunities for medium to large brands that you could almost keep at it for a month straight. It’s so easy that I can find a real example within the first 10 images of a search I’ll do. We do a lot of luxury marketing and run a luxury marketing company, so our content director Simon Gerard is a big fan of Doettling Safes. He is writing something on them as I sit here writing this, so we’ll use them as our example in this post. The link building opportunities you’ll find are either a broken link, or the blog didn’t bother to link at all… You’d be surprised how often this happens.

Right in the first 5 images that come up for the image search term “doettling safes” was a post from UberGizmo.com on one of their safes. The link in post 404′s as the brand Doettling has since changed its domain. I haven’t looked deeper into this but I imagine they have a boatload of broken links out there from this move. That’s something to keep in mind when moving domains folks!


Badges, Awards & Other “Brandable” Images

There are a ton of ways to provide embeddable images for other websites to use in a legit way. Whether that be through a badge, some sort of award, a “powered by” button or whatever else comes to mind. As some of you known, I’m nose deep in backlink profiles daily and I’m seeing a lot of authority sites with tons of image links doing good things. I truly think it’s a great addition to your link profile as it adds diversity and usually those image links are not spammy at all.

Not every business will be able to utilize this tactic, but for those who can, come up with a smart and unique way to go about it and you’ll slowly build more natural links. Brand badges are the best way as a lot of your partners and “Brand Fans” will want to add your logo to certain content pages. Overstock.com has done a bang up job with this, as they have literally tens of thousands of image links beefing up their already impressive link profile. Check it out!


Link Data From: Ahrefs.com

Linkable Contest Assets

You’ve all heard it a million times over. Create good content and people will naturally link to it. While it doesn’t happen as magically as Matt Cutts may think, it’s still the best tool in the shed imho. For us, we take a look at what our client is doing and what their competitors have done. We then make a giant list of resources such as guides, reviews, videos and other useful ideas for the user content that should be there. Forgetting the links for a second, to be seen as an authority in your vertical you’ll want this type of content as it’s genuinely helpful.

Digital Magazine & Mobile Apps

2012 has been a busy year for us and the most fun we’ve had building content and attracting links has been by making magazines for tablets. But why can’t users just read their blog? Well they can, however we’re finding people still love the magazine format and a lot of publishing houses will also agree. We’ve been building magazines for real estate agents, jewelry companies, hotels and all sorts of brands who have customers that love a digital content-heavy magazine.

The benefits are bountiful! You get links from app stores, bloggers reviewing your magazine, and all the android/iPad/Kindle bloggers out in the wild. It’s also a great way to network with others, feature social influencers, and even to have a worthy reason to launch a press release when a new issue comes out.

My favorite example to use is one of my favorite brands in the world, Elliman Prudential Real Estate.


Photo Credit: Apple iTunes Stores

This is a brand that has a marketing team that knows what they’re doing, so besides utilizing this as an overall branding strategy, I suggest you look at how they do everything. For the sake of links to their magazine, let’s take a look-see at how creating this magazine snagged them a lot of high quality links, and not just from the iTunes store. These links just scratch the surface and are the result of doing “real company sh#t“.

Hopefully you get the idea now!

Software, CMS Plugins & Other Tools

Here lies another tactic that requires time, programmers, and creativity. It is also not something that every brand will do, but I think if offers many opportunities regardless of your vertical. There’s no secret here; just take a look at what tools, web apps and other utilities are in your vertical and then do something else. If you can provide something to users that is truly useful, you will get links and they’ll steadily come in for as long as that software is alive and kicking. Just don’t be stupid and try and score anchor text-specific links for your money terms or risk being smacked down hard. We’ve helped companies develop:

  • Plugins for WordPress(Yoast is a brilliant example although we had no part in this obviously), Joomla, Drupal, Prestashop, Zencart, Magento etc etc
  • Mortgage calculators and other embeddable tools that can attract the right links
  • Software for students which resulted in 100′s of .edu links
  • Widgets of all kinds that hadn’t been done to death already

This just gives you more fodder to get links from the app and download sites, give it away for free to the most prominent bloggers in your niche, as well as rack up links from users using your software. Yet another solid idea that is not about the link per se, but more about overall branding and marketing to build a targeted audience.

PDF User Manuals & Guides

A lot of companies have complex products that require tech support, and one way almost everyone addresses that is by PDF manuals. It’s content that is for the user and in the process can be an asset to your content marketing efforts. We all know that you can build strong profiles on sites like Scribd, Docstoc and others, but those are just the usual suspects. From what I’ve seen in my link travels, you’ll find all sorts of sites linking to your helpful PDFs… So with that being said, I highly recommend building a very well-structured “help/tutorial” section for your products.

I’ll use BenQ as an example because I have a projector from them; I love it, although I’ve had to do a lot of diagnosis and repair myself. They have a great support section with FAQs, PDFs, and other helpful resources that have been linked to from all over the web. For the most part, expect a lot of links from blogs and forums from users helping each other out by linking to your solution.

Do a Podcast or Video Show

Another content creation asset not a lot of brands pick up on are podcasts or video shows. They’re time consuming, and they require an audio/video editor as well as someone who wants to be in the spotlight. With the right budget, this is definitely a really fun and user-addicting medium. I’m a huge subscriber to all sorts of podcasts and video shows… And who isn’t these days?! Take a look back at my post on how Rick Steves built his brand and take notes. See how his latest guests are earning themselves not only a link, but targeted new followers right here.

Being featured in related media is great… No brainer… Duhhhh! It’s a great opportunity to get a link from the show’s notes, promote your company, and make some new fans (or enemies). Take a look at how @D_Seaman is spreading the word and building his brand via podcasting.

Contests FTW!!

I’ve talked about contests a ton, and all I can say is that you should be doing one at least quarterly throughout the year. The number of links, brand buzz and social followers you can get is insane. Of course, this depends on a few important factors. If you’re a new brand with not much social reach, you best be bringing one helluva prize set to the table. That and your budget is going to need to be on the higher level to see some major success. The ROI will come later, so just keep steaming ahead forward, make sure you’re giving away something that targets the right user, and max it out.

The best contests are when your users create content for you as part of the entry. This means you’ll get tons and tons of free content that is hopefully attracting a lot of views. You can repurpose this stuff across your social streams and the benefits don’t stop there. Let’s see who’s running a contest right now and break it down in regards to overall “brand buzz”.

Computing… (Computer blips and bleeps)… Bingo!

Acting as a curator, Lexus has picked eight start-up products seeking funding that capture Lexus’ signature style and intelligence. It matches up two products on Facebook each week through October 21, asking visitors to vote once a day for the product they hope to use in the future.

It’s similar to ABC’s reality shows Shark Tank and American Inventor, but with the public rather than seasoned judges voting instead.

The winner of the popular vote will receive $25,000 in funding from Lexus. In total, the luxury automaker will fork out $100,000 to four fan favorites in the match-up.

Lexus is currently hosting a brilliant contest called “Lexus Ignition” to promote the new 2013 ES. Instead of just giving away something, they’re encouraging a lot of user content to be created. It has netted them so many links, followers and social chatter it’s not even funny. Just go do a Google search for it and you’ll see what I mean… That or take a quick look via Topsy.

Let’s see how well it’s doing so far!

What I like about this style of contest as it dips its toes deep into a few big verticals, and the contest itself is link bait. You’re going to have car sites, car forums, technology sites, news sites and all the startups participating linking and promoting the crap out of it via any resource available.

Lets see the Twitter growth in the last month


Photo Credit: TwitterCounter.com
 

Guest Blogging Is Alive And Well

I still love guest blogging, although I have a love/hate relationship with it. It’s extremely time consuming, blog owners usually take forever and if you’re on a deadline it can be a hurdle to overcome. We sure do a lot of it here for our clients, or at least help them secure the opportunity and then let their brand loving writers go to town on some awesome content.

Guest Blogging Is The New Paid Link

I don’t know about you folks, but how often are the larger blogs in your vertical demanding money for the opportunity to write amazing content for them? This is clearly against Google’s TOS but it doesn’t really matter, as it’s behind-the-scenes and it’s too hard to tell who’s selling what without contacting all the blogs. I as well don’t care at all if that’s against Google’s TOS, but it also might not be at all.

Why, you ask?

Well, in my crazy opinion of course, the guest blogging opportunity is much more than just getting a link. Sure that’s fine and dandy, but the big blogs in your vertical will have thousands, tens of thousand or even hundreds of thousands of Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/etc followers. Those are all people you’re going to want to siphon off to your brand, so it’s just good old new fangled advertising. I highly recommend sticking to a natural site/brand link and make sure the content you’re promoting is link bait in one way or another. That user base they have at your fingertips is enough to push your content throughout your little corner of the interwebz.

Steer Clear of Guest Blogging Networks

I don’t mean to harp on the companies and people who have set up places for bloggers to write and get writers for their site. However, I think it’s safe to say that these sites are not of the utmost quality and the content they let on… Well, let me just say that I wouldn’t want my brand situated next to low-quality junk.

Instead, seek out the quality blogs in your niche and Tweet them, call them, share their content and make a relationship form. If you’re a really big brand, well then you’re in easier than you think. Most bloggers are thrilled when a big company approaches them to work on content with them, so use that big brand power to your advantage in this situation.

Read These Posts

Because You’re A Big Brand

There are so many ways to attract links and even build legit ones just because you’re a big brand. I’ve already discussed this in previous posts and given away tons of related ideas, but in case you missed out, read this, this and of course don’t forget this. Instead of repeating those tactics here, I’m going to showcase some real world examples from some of the world’s biggest companies. To do this properly, let’s look at three different companies in three different verticals.

Let’s take a look at Lexus again here as they seem to be on point with their marketing. A look deep into their link profile reveals a lot of interesting ways they have gotten links, for example:

While Barack Obama is not a company, he is a brand among other things and his social media marketing efforts are second to none… OK, maybe second to Ron Paul. His domain receives all the types of links you’d expect, from Wikipedia, to news sites, to forums all over the world. Let’s take a look at a few of those examples:

  • Barack Obama has a very authoritative page on The HuffPo
  • Who wouldn’t love a link from the Guardian.co.uk?
  • He tops lists all over because of the sheer number of social followers he has
  • Obama is even on Tumblr!
  • He’s utilized technology very well, just look at the Q/A he did on Techcrunch back in 2007
  • Who can forget the day he crashed Reddit? His IAmA was the most active one ever and it brought down the site! The sheer amount of links pointing to that IAmA thread is pushing some serious link juice to the links at the top there!

Again I’ll refer back to Elliman Prudential because they obtain links and social followers in all the right ways. I am in no way working for them nor have I ever… Just want to get that across, although if they’d like to I’m always open :)

What I’m trying to get across here is that your vertical will have unique linking opportunities that you’ll have to go out and work hard for. These links won’t be junk, they’ll provide quality and diversity and help push your brand to what it needs to be: an Authority. You’ll find these by digging through your competitors’ backlink profiles, as well as by getting creative and hunting down the hidden gems that your competitors haven’t sniffed out yet.

Must Read Link Building Posts For 2012

Despite me saying earlier that there hasn’t been a whole lot of new secrets or strategies lately, I may have been wrong to say that. There has been amazing content streaming out of my favorite people in the industry including Ross Hudgens, Jason Acidre, Eric Ward, Jon Cooper, Paddy Moogan, Rand Fishkin, Wil Reynolds, Garrett French, Tad Szewczyk, Kristi Hines and so many more.

I’ve done my best to find and remember the content I loved the most and I hope you find it useful. As always, I invite you to Tweet me, Email me or comment below some great content from 2012 that I failed to mention here. So little effort for a link from us, so don’t hesitate… We don’t bite!

 

Back To Part 1: Stop Building Links And Start Attracting Them

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About Ryan Clark

I'm the CEO of Linkbuildr Marketing and the brains behind our branding and blog content. I specialize in effective marketing strategies for hotels, luxury brands and real estate. If your brand is in need of a boost then don't hesitate to contact me for a free proposal. Follow me on Google+: +Ryan Clark Twitter: @Linkbuildr on Twitter. You can also come ask me a question on our Facebook Page.  

5 Responses to Stop Building Links And Start Attracting Them

  1. kader says:

    I dont know how you packed so much useful information into one post and still made it a good read. Something for everybody in there. Good job

  2. This article is absolutely BRILLIANT!! So many amazing tips! Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Overall a good article but I think saying their is no benefit to getting exact keyword anchor text is ridiculous. If you have a strong and balanced link profile then getting targeted anchor text can still have a major benefit. In fact, if you’re a brand who doesn’t have a primary keyword in your domain then it’s close to a necessity.

  4. Hey Ryan,

    Thanks for the comment and I agree somewhat. In regards to you choosing specific anchor text when you’re cherry picking links, then that’s unnatural and I’d be worried. I’m telling brands and real companies who will never actually build links like say an affiliate, to steer clear of even thinking about anchor text.

    But they still work well and I’m seeing a lot of spammers ranking very quickly and easily for very tough keywords. I just think they’ll soon take into effect the link type and start penalizing/downgrading people for that.

  5. SEORepublic says:

    I found lots of interesting information here. Thanks you for the info.

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