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When Was The Last Time You Earned A Link?

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April 2  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

Can’t answer the question above? Then read on…

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.

trulia linkable assets

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.

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This was good enough for Tech Crunch to pick up as well as ZDnet, TheNextWeb and Dribbble. So, let’s sit back and think about this press release for a minute.

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.

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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…

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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.

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Read The Interview: Links vs Tweets via Jon from @PointBlankSEO

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.

Why?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  

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