Being a blogger may like a pretty lush job on the surface. They get to voice an opinions whenever they feel like it. It’s essentially the ultimate form of venting. There is a catch. As a blogger, we need to make our content useful. It’s not just about writing something, but rather writing something people want to read. Beyond great topics, we need to make the articles useful. So how do we do that?
When you are a blogger, it doesn’t really matter that you write 5, 8, 10 blogs in the day if there isn’t anyone to read and share them with the rest of the world. And if you are a newbie, the trick is to get yourself involved and connected to other bloggers and have them share your work. This interaction benefits both you as an author and the blogger. You get a little endorsed promotion, and the blogger that shared your post has a chance at reaching a wider audience. It’s white hat at it’s best.
However, guest blogging is not always an option. Popular blog owners have established themselves so just any regular article won’t do. Providing readers with good content can be easily achieved with a few easy tricks:
Stick to one subject and one conclusion
It’s easy to get carried away writing an article. Thanks to the modern entertainment age, most people have short attention spans. The best articles are the ones that are short and sweet.
Mention other bloggers
Connecting yourself with others is a good way to spread the fame. Popular bloggers are also a great source to reference to. A good reference can giving your post more legitimacy.
Create a relationship with other bloggers to send and receive guest posts
This is a “give and take” relationship. This interaction benefits everyone so take the time to tweet, facebook, and meet other bloggers in the community.
Aim for a magnificent future not a minute of fame
It is not a disaster if the guest post you place on a website does not reach its peak in an instance. Write the post as best as you can and make sure it contains all keywords you’re trying to reach. Beyond that, be available for feedback or comments and do your best to reach the new audience.
Your readers are important!!!
Whenever you write a post, you’re goal is to get people to interact. Any publicity is good publicity. Let your readers know you care about their opinion and reply to as many comments as you can. Use some of their comments and ideas. It will only increase your audience.
Make your guest posts simple and easy to read
Most of the readers are newbies. They find posts on Google when they search for something they don’t know – a term, an answer to a question or they just click some links that appear on their screens. That is how new readers are created. When writing a guest post make sure it’s clear and precise and easy for a beginner to understand.
So to all you writers-to-be out there, keep it simple! Respect your audience and they will always respect you. Always ask for help and remember that mutual respect amongst bloggers is what will make you rise high up the steps of the world of blogs.
I’m currently going over my fifth link profile since 9am and I’m slightly blind from gazing at spreadsheets for so long. 50,000-ish links later and they all seem to have one common attribute. The majority of the links were earned from being an actual brand and the rest were obviously built by someone from some marketing team or company. Very few people “get it” when it comes to content marketing and even fewer earn the links and social shares how they should be.
I’m going to be talking a lot more about creating link assets and doing things that are unique, creative and amazing. This is what gets links naturally, and no it doesn’t have to be right away. I know what you’re thinking: “but I want links now!” That’s all fine and dandy, and some of your efforts will be fruitful sooner rather than later… But don’t knock the tortoise before you’ve crossed the finish line. We have built linkable assets for clients that are still getting linked to years later. You build something truly useful, educational or fun and you’ll find that people will continue to share it as time goes on.
Still wondering what a linkable asset is?
A linkable asset is simply a piece of content (article, image, video, infographic, widget), an app or event that gets the attention of your target market. This is what you call creating content for the user, and not the search engine. You may be rolling your eyes at this point but if you’re commandeering a large brand, you don’t want to mess around. Providing your industry with tools, great blog posts, mobile apps and widgets is a great way to earn a few links.
A great example brand is @Trulia. They do all sorts of amazing things for both Realtors and the user. Just one way they’ve managed to earn a ton of industry related links is with their free tools and widgets. Just about every real estate and mortgage site in the world has their own mortgage calculator, but this isn’t 2001 anymore.
Again, these are innovative and beautifully done tools that are of actual use to people. They took a look at what the industry offered and took things to a whole new level. They’re not gaming for any anchor text and there’s not a care in the world if the link is followed or not. Get me links that send good referral traffic and I’ll show you the money.
Big Brand = Big Press
One of the recent hot topics in the world of links was whether or not press releases helped with rankings at all. Matt Cutts vaguely talks about it in a thread over on their webmaster help forums. If you’re already established your brand and have actual real news to get out to the industry, you will score links that do count.
If you’re already an established brand you should have a much easier time getting your news picked up by sites like The Huffington Post or any other online news site…take your pick. If the news is good, it will get out to the right people. Just make sure that the news is worthy. For example:
Statistics report of whitepaper releases
Merger announcments, IPOs and achievements
A new product launch or even a product recall
Launching a mobile or tablet app
A great example that’s recent was some news from Zendesk who launched a new iPad app. A brand with that kind of clout will definitely earn a few great links from industry authority sites because their news matters.
Real news gets put out there because a new product is out for the hungry consumers. The links earned from this press release are not just from the release that went out from PRNewswire.com itself, but so much more. Zendesk will score links from related blogs, forums, video/app download sites and all the tech and business news sites that picked it up. Not to mention they’ve built some social media buzz and should expect to see a rise in mobile users and social media followers.
All of this = real value.
Video Credit Links
Video is becoming more and more prevalent in day-to-day blogging and how often do you find yourself embedding a Youtube video? Now how often do you credit the website/brand with a link back, just like you would give photo credit? I’ve noticed a lot more large news sites and authority blogs are giving credit to either the Youtube video and/or the company’s website.
If you notice a site that has embedded your video and you don’t see a link, it doesn’t hurt to ask. You’d be surprised how many webmasters will do so just because you created it. I just watched a video of Underground Racing’s twin turbo Ferrari Italia on Autoblog.com. They link to the original Youtube video, but not Underground Racing’s website.
Having a good video does wonders!
Dominos is experimenting with all sorts of social media strategies, but their Pizza Hero is something that stuck around my mind.
This product needs a video to showcase how cool the app is and it certainly got picked up on a lot of blogs, social networks and news sites. It’s not like Dominos needs the links, however the right links sent targeted traffic into their app – which is a sales device all on its own.
I know I said a company like Dominos doesn’t care about link building, but I’ll let the SERPs speak for themselves…
The Power Of The Interview
I’m a huge interview junkie and I noticed my natural tendency to link to and share them more than most content I read. There are so many ways to do an interview, so your content marketing idea well is one that should never dry up. If you already have a big social following, and the person who you’re interviewing has a large follower base, then you’re all going to come out on top. Your readers and their fans are going to want to read it, and they’re going to want to share it.
Some of you may know we’ve launched a luxury marketing company, and this strategy has been an integral part of our growth so far. We’ve done a few dozen luxury interviews over the past year and it has helped grow our user base with followers that actually are productive.
The group or “crowd sourced” interview is another great idea, as it produces a lot of fantastic content and you have the power of everyone involved spreading it. Jon from Point Blank SEO does interviews all the time and here’s just one example of a group interview that had a lot of influencers in the SEO world.
This is content that will earn links within the first week of going live, and it will earn links over time as new people discover and share it. They definitely will share it too, as it has a lot of great ideas and input from some of the top minds in our little vertical.
Now imagine you’re Disney, Nike or some other large brand. Your already-large follower base is going to eat stuff like this up, and it’s going to bring you a lot of traffic.
Just Because You’re In The Industry
Make some noise in your vertical or go home. I hope that the industry you’re in is one you care about, are passionate about, and perhaps even treat it like your family a bit. There are so many ways to be involved within the community your brand resides in, so make sure you’re out there doing RCS.
A lot of the ideas I will mention here are exploited in a way that I don’t think is all too ethical, but in the world of business that doesn’t always make a difference. In my world, it does and I don’t think a company should shy away from getting their hands dirty and becoming more involved within their niche.
Charity Work & Donations
There are going to be at least a half dozen amazing charities working in your space and I’m a big believer that industry leaders should always be giving back. With that said, I feel a slight bit dirty mentioning, suggesting and condoning also treating charity as a marketing strategy. This is in the world we live in, and I don’t think a lot of money would have gone to help out those in need if there wasn’t a benefit back.
A lot of companies used to buy links – aka donate money – to charities a lot as they usually had authoritative websites. It would only take $50,000 of great links to push a lot of weight to the “donor”. While this did help a lot of people rank for very competitive keywords, it is a flawed linking strategy.
Well, if you think about it most of they wanted a specific anchor text or just wanted the link. You do NOT want a link profile made up of links from your donations. Google will definitely take note of this and I wouldn’t sleep well at night at all knowing what kind of links were inflating my rankings. Donating to 25 charities also is just greasy and if you’re building a brand for the long haul, then there’s no need for a grease stain. Getting involved with a couple industry related charities is a great way to give back and be known for being a part of that community.
sometimes doing RCS comes with a RCC… (real company cost).
One of our clients requires me to go on-site every other month and they are the reason I decided to mention it in this post. They are involved in one charity along with many other local and global brands within their niche. They were involved in a day-long event to raise money in a variety of ways. This one happened to be a casino night which made for a fun but formal affair. The evening went off without a hitch and while I wasn’t there, it looked to be a fun and a fruitful night for the charity involved.
How do I know? I noticed a tweet from their account to a blog post from an employee who attended and recorded a lot via photo and video. This lead me to a whole bunch of other user generated content like Youtube videos, the Instagram hashtag archive for the event, and especially all the blog and news sites that picked up the story. I noticed a lot of those blog posts and news posts had links back to the websites of the brands who were involved.
This reach goes beyond a link from a charity website, and into the social where anything is possible really. This encouraged me to get them to put all the content their staff took into a web app for people to view and explore. This also led to scoring links through outreach; all that content was open for people to take and put up as well, which means we can now go out and ask for links in places they used one of the pictures.
Conferences & Events
If you’ve attended, ran, or operated a booth at a conference or event then you know the major marketing benefits from this. If you’re taking part in industry events like this, there are going to be many real reasons your site should be earning links and social followers.
In this day of blogging and social networks there are also a ton of other ways you can create content and earn links from events and conferences:
Guest blogging your experience of the event
A link from conference websites for taking part
Getting interviewed by your industry’s media
Video and image credit links from other authors around the web
Score targeted social followers from your industry
Have an embeddable presentation for people to link up after you speak
The best part? All of this should be actual fun for you and your staff as they’re just showcasing what they love about their brand.
Create, Share and Don’t Stop
It’s sometimes hard to keep on the creative streak once you’ve had some success, so don’t stop even after a lot of misfires. While there are a multitude of ways you can build your own links, why make it easy for the competition? If your brand isn’t earning even a few links a month you need to really evaluate your organic search strategy.
The inbound marketing world changes so fast, except great content marketing is not going anywhere… Ever. Stop thinking about Mozrank, dofollow and PR for a bit and just enjoy what you do. Showcase your brand’s more unique aspects, educate customers on your products and have some fun while doing it.
Hopefully by now you’ve picked up on the theme of doing real things to earn real links, no games.
I am actually shocked it took this long for someone to try something funny towards our site. I don’t think I’ve pissed anyone off all that much in the past year or so, but regardless someone has blasted Linkbuildr.com with a load of anchor text specific links from blog comments. Looks like Scrapebox went to town on us and pushed us into the top 5 for the target keyword they focused on.
We certainly never had that many links before and I honestly haven’t even checked in months as all of our business comes from people reading my content and referrals. We do not build links and the majority of them come from me being apart of the industry and our content getting linked to.
Negative SEO Attempt
So far we’re now ranking in the top 5 for “link building blog” which has rose since these nofollow links came flooding in from blogs all over the world. I’m not too worried about it as they’re nofollow anyway and no one has really seen a full proof case of negative SEO working.
With that being said, I kind of hope the Google algorithm burns us for it because I’ll turn that into some sweet link bait. Luckily for us, our business of getting new clients does not rely on free Google traffic all that much. While I also don’t have a whole lot of time any more to handle social media relationships either, we get a lot of content shares from the great people of this industry.
What Kind Of Links Did We Get?
The majority of links are the usual crap you get from the services sections of the “SEO” forums that plague the internet. I’m always ragging on Warrior Forum, Blackhat World, Digital Point and the like so perhaps someone from there is responsible for the new link love.
At least they were polite!
Blog Comment Spam:
Will We Get Dropped?
I decided to write about this publicly just incase we do get hit as it will make for an interesting discussion. I don’t think much will happen and if negative SEO does work, it shouldn’t be this easy. There are certainly a lot of people coming into Google’s webmaster help central complaining that competitors are doing this and its working. Problem with that is so many companies hire “SEO” companies and have no idea they’re just getting link spam.
Like I’ve stated before, 99% of SEO companies out there are spammers and either know they’re just slinging junk or still think that manually submitting a site to 250 directories, doing one line blog comments and submitting to social bookmark sites is marketing. I also state that Google keeps ranking link spammers and snake oil SEO consultants at the top for every and any keyword related to online marketing.
So you might be thinking….is Ryan getting crazy in his old age? What’s this nonsense about guest blogging and paid links being mentioned in the same sentence? One of the major staples in our inbound marketing campaigns for clients is doing kick-ass content marketing on off site blogs. I’ve taken the time to compile the data just over the last year from all of our guest blogging outreach and the results were a little funny.
While paid links in all sorts of ways are still happening, guest blogging has been the “beacon of light” for a lot of agencies and consultants. It’s a great way to reach your target audience, and frankly, the link you “earn” isn’t the highest of priorities for myself and our clients. Overall brand awareness and reach is what I’m going for and what better way to earn that then providing amazing/unique/intelligent content to the targeted masses?
Two Plagues Of Guest Blogging
1) Shitty content and targeted anchor text
The majority of guest blogging taking place is just the same lame article marketing style of content Google has tried to tapper off in the past couple of years. There’s no value being put forth and all these clueless “SEO’s” are overdoing anchor text and its just all about the link.
2) Blog owners want money to allow you to guest post
I’m sure those that do a lot of guest blogging outreach like we do get asked all the time to pay to be able to guest blog for the site. The biggest blogs in your vertical will most likely ask for money and this is the majority according to our data. Google will definitely be cracking down on this in the near future as they will see this as a paid link. I, however, think you will be fine so long as you provide outstanding content, and the social media reactions are somewhat abundant. When you’re “guest blogging” on a large site in your vertical it should be all about the brand exposure. I can see why you’d need to pay because you’re also getting reach through their(hopefully) large social media following, newsletter and whatever else they have going on. Oh, and don’t bother picking anchor text that’s not normal and stick to a nice looking site/brand link.
Guest Blogging Results By The Numbers
From the numbers below you can clearly see that the larger sites wanting money had more to offer than just that link. If your content stays top notch, you’re putting it on a high quality blog in your vertical and you’re also paying for their follower base(social + newsletter), I don’t ever see a problem with Google in regards to those links. I’m sure there is room for argument so I will leave that up to you folks as you know I love hearing your thoughts.
99% of the “SEO” firms out there are nothing more than petty link spammers that have no clue how to do anything of value. Sadly most of them have no clue that what they’re doing is against Google’s TOS. So many real brands hire these snake oil providers because they themselves are not on the up and up.
If your brand offers nothing worth linking(or worth socially sharing) to then please stop every marketing tactic you’re currently doing and refocus. I get a dozen emails a day from people wanting to work with us and I sadly have to turn down nearly all of them. That or they get offende when I state they’ll need a few thousand dollars a month to compete in their competitive verticals. So please stop emailing me unless you want to actually, as Wil Reynolds puts it, “real company shit”.
Sadly, I also get a large number of emails from real companies who have hired these know-nothing consultants who have done nothing but keyword stuff their pages and build god awful links. I hope to help a little by ranting like an angry old man as well as provide you with the knowledge to sniff out a snake.
Audit 1: Their Link Profile
So let’s say you’ve gone to Google and typed in “whitehat SEO services” or “SEO services” or “link building services” etc etc…you will be presented with pretty much only companies who spammed to get their and do the same to their clients. Even some of the “big name” companies showing up here are just spamming to justify their rankings. I’m not one to out a company anymore so for that reason I won’t be naming names.
So in order to audit their links it’s quite simple, just use one of the free or paid tools out there such as Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs, MajesticSEO. For this example below I’ve used Open Site Explorer because you can signup with a free account and get quite a bit of data.
Just as suspected, the first result has the lamest links with all targeted anchor text. So much for Google’s updates…
Anyone who pays attention to the organic SERPs know that Penguin and Panda are a joke if you’re a spammer. You can still make tons and tons of money within a few month time period with nothing but a 2-3 page website and tons of link spam. The site in question here recently did a big blast to secure the top position for any link building service related keyword.
If you see a potential SEO firm with really unnatural anchors like that stay far away because they have no idea what they’re doing. Before you start commenting in anger at me, yes I know target anchor text ranks a site and thus they have an idea of what they’re doing. You just don’t want your legit company being handled by the likes of someone from Digital Point or the Warrior Forum.
Audit 2: Their Clients
The second thing I’d recommend taking a look at is if they list any clients on their website. A lot of SEO firms do this to establish credit, so take advantage of that. I recommend taking a look at the following:
Their link profile, specifically anchor text levels and types of links
Their on-page SEO and quality of content
What kind of social signals
Check the rankings for the clients main keywords
Check prices…if they’re a few hundred dollars you’re just going to get spam
You will quickly see a pattern emerge and should be able to tell if the SEO company is garbage within just a few minutes. If they don’t offer any clients(as we don’t) on their website just ask. If they don’t provide any you know you can move onto the next or just give me an email.
That’s It Folks!
As you can see it doesn’t take much effort to figure things out and please do investigate before handing over the life of your brand online. I don’t care if you don’t contact us to handle your brand, but please don’t let some scumbag SEO company ruin your organic rankings.
So we often hear that no press is bad press and in the case of Burger King’s Twitter hacking they certainly will come out on top. While a lot of nefarious things were mentioned and done on the account no one will really care, so in the end Burger King will definitely enjoy the buzz.
The reason I hope they don’t care? No one will remember this in a week and during that time, I imagine the will get thousands of links and social followers because of it…so what’s the big deal? Let this sink in and be a lesson on how to turn a bad thing into something good.
If I were them, I would also try and get interviews from highly authoritative places about the incident and perhaps talk about brand image and or social media security…it’s kind of a snooze fest but I imagine a lot of publications are looking to talk to someone over there while the news is hot.
For some reason SAPE links has not been touched by Google’s nasty magic ban wand but it looks like after a lot of chatter via SEO forums, Matt Cutts is a coming for them. While I hope no legit business has been running these links because if so, I’d get on the disavow train pretty quick. The majority of the other people I imagine are affiliate sites than an just turn and burn as they say. Either way, if you’re relying on lame link building like this for your legit business and want to stop, give me a shout to hear how we do it right.
Finally Google has told us that they will tell us, or at least gives clues as to which links they deem inappropriate and are potentially ruining your organic ranking. While the problem for a lot of companies is that they don’t screen which “SEO” company they hire, or their in-house team is as clueless as 99% of link builders out there.
If your brand isn’t even attracting any links at all you’re NOT DOING IT RIGHT. While we’re not against building links, hell our name even suggests it, we do however want our clients to do something that earns them links. We also don’t giv two shits about anchor text or any other manipulation because if your company isn’t the best choice to be shown to searchers, get off the field.
Find out the results of a year of high volume content marketing on guests blogs taught us money still talks. Read the results!
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Negative SEO Attack?
Check out the anatomy of a "negative SEO" attack on our own site in our latest post. There's too much worry about these attacks happening, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. Come read what I think and just what to do if anything like this happens to your brand.