I believe everyone reading Advanced Web Ranking here understands the importance of backlinks. Based on my limited experience, it is the most important of all off-page SEO factor.
And in case you need proof, here’s a site I am monitoring for the last 18 months.
Notice how the links and organic traffic correlate to each other.
In this article, I will discuss three link building strategies I am using now and in near future.
Link building strategy #1: Guest posting (on blogs that participate in content syndication)
Guest posting is a common and safe tactic for generating backlinks and getting traffic to your site. I’ve used it for several of my blogs and I’m sure many of you might also be trying to guest post for relevant sites in your niche.
But there’s a problem with guest posting – even though a guest post gives you a backlink, it might not give you a lot of traffic or traction.
And that’s because your work is only seen by the readers of the target blog and no one else. But I’ve found a solution to this problem in the form of guest posting for sites that syndicate content.
Let me explain:
Content syndication is the process of taking a piece of content and publishing it on multiple blogs. Huge publications like The Huffington Post, Mashable, Business 2 Community and more have their own content syndication networks. Here, they work with niche ‘partner’ or ‘publisher’ sites and pick the trending posts from these sites and republish them on their blogs.
When such sites republish content, they give credit (and a link) to the partner or publisher site from where they fetched the content and sometimes feature the author bio.
Three main benefits of guest posting on a site that syndicates content:
#1: Getting to hack into audiences of multiple blogs
By guest posting on a site that syndicates content, your guest post has a chance to feature on some of the top blogs on the web. Which means more people will see your work, and more people will notice your author bio and visit your website.
#2: Hacking into the social followings of these popular blogs
Websites that republish content promote it actively on their social networks. Which means, you get more social engagement for the same guest post.
#3: Future link building campaigns/outreach opportunities
When your guest post features on top blogs, your credibility increases. Also, when your content is syndicated on a popular blog, you get your foot in the door in that blog’s network. Which means you can approach such blogs more confidently when you have other outreach link building requests.
Getting this done: Real life example
So, let’s say that you run a blog on career advice, for example.
Instead of guest posting for any popular website in the career niche, look for a site like The Muse.
The Muse has a massive content syndication network and is a publisher for sites like Mashable, Inc, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Business Insider and more.
So, if you only get your guest post on The Muse, you won’t just get a couple backlinks to your site, but you’ll also be able to leverage the website’s huge republishing network.
Imagine how much more exposure you’ll get for the same guest post.
Sure, you won’t get any additional SEO juice in this case for all the republishing but as I said before, this will make your guest post a smashing hit and add credibility to your brand. Which is something that will help you significantly improve your link building results.
Let’s now see the steps you need to take to get started.
Find popular blogs in your niche that accept guest posts and are part of huge content syndication networks.
A good way to find out if a blog syndicates content is to look for keyphrases like “this post originally appeared on [target blog]”.
In the example we saw, you’d probably look for something like “this post originally appeared on The Muse” to confirm is The Muse participates in content syndication.
Find interesting ideas to pitch to the editors of these blogs.
When your target is to get featured on multiple blogs, it’s important to choose topics that have a mass appeal and aren’t too niche specific.
Even if you have the world’s most boring niche site, don’t fret. Because it IS possible to find clever post ideas that will appeal to a broader set of audiences.
Kristi Hines offers some useful advice in this article:
For example, if you are a restaurant business, you can do a post on how to get sustainable ingredients for your chefs. If you are a realtor, you can do a post on best social media techniques for real estate professionals.
If you notice the post, “How to handle these 5 awkward money conversations with coworkers”, from the example we’re discussing, you’ll see that it’s not too career-specific. But sites like Mashable and Fast Company republished it.
So give your post ideas a universal spin and don’t make them too focused — or you’ll lose your chance of getting featured.
Link Building Strategy #2: Building relationships (or influencer outreach)
In the second link building strategy that I’m going to try, I’m going to reach out to a lot of influencers with backlink requests. But these requests won’t be cold emails.
Here’s what I mean:
As the owner of a popular website, I’m used to getting lots of outreach emails. These emails are about featuring or reviewing products on my blog, or guest post or backlinks or social shout requests, and more.
When I open such an email, I can tell if it’s written to me, or if I too have received a copy of the template.
I’d say about 90% of these emails lack sincerity. So, I know how severe this problem is for niche influencers — to get 10s of emails every day — each asking for something.
And I’m telling you from this experience:
Template emails that are not personalized at all fall flat.
But even highly personalized emails can fail. Because sometimes, just investing the time in writing a great email isn’t enough. You need to do better than that. Actually, you need to do much more than that.
Earlier, just an outreach email used to suffice, now it takes a series of small engagements before requesting a link.
These engagements could be:
- Following the influencer
- Sharing their content regularly
- Leaving meaningful comments on their blogs
When you do all of this and mention it in your outreach email, the person you’re reaching out to will see your effort and realize that you’re not just another blogger chasing a backlink or seeking a favor.
I reached out to Vinay Koshy of Sprout Worth when researching for this article and he gave some good advice –
For newbies I would not recommend using influencer outreach, if link building is the objective.
Instead, he says, focus on “relationship building”.
Once relationships are formed it can help with referrals, traffic etc. It is what has helped us grow an audience of over 30,000 subscribers over at WP Curve. But for a newbie to start by asking for links would make it a very transactional kind of outreach which would in most instances not be looked on very kindly,” he adds.
Now if you look at the small engagements I suggested, in the larger sense, this is all relationship building. So start with those and not with the ‘ask’. To get a headstart, start engaging with this engagement checklist that Groove has used successfully over the years.
- Follow on Twitter.
- Two Tweets.
- Two blog comments.
- Two blog shares.
- Personal email.
Link building strategy #3: Building link-worthy web assets
My third link link building strategy is the one I’ve used successfully on many of my current projects.
Unlike the strategies we saw until now (all of which involve outreach or are somewhat outbound in nature), this link-worthy content building strategy is truly inbound.
Real life examples
Here, you don’t ask for links or favors. Instead, you create something so good that people want to link to you. This resource could be:
1. Online Courses
I made this 8,000-words Web Hosting Beginner Guide for people who’re looking to launch their first website back in 2010. The page has drawn hundreds of unsolicited links over the years.
2. Free tool
One of my favorite web tool – Dynamic Dummy Image Generator is a simple tool that helps designers create dummy images in a jiffy. This allows them to carry on with the design work without having to wait for the client to get back with the real photographs or visuals.
The site has 110,755 back links from 2,951 referring domains at this time of writing.
Another example on my site WHSR – we give away more than 1,200 free icons. These icon sets are helpful to people who’re looking to build great looking websites.
What content/tools to build?
Remember that such content pieces or freebies or tools only become successful IF they solve a real problem. If instead of an icon set, I made PPT templates, I’m sure my readers wouldn’t be interested.
So, to develop such resources, you first need to find out what your readers really need. Identifying such needs is easy if you look at the places your readers hang out and discuss them. Here are some popular reader hangouts:
Wiselike is an interesting tool that connects professionals. It lets you have a 101 with professionals in any niche.
So, if you have a customer support blog, follow questions about your niche and start following customer support heroes (so that you get updates when they answer any questions.)
Not only that, go ahead and ask about the content they wish had existed before they started working or what’s the tool they wish had existed.
Advanced Facebook groups
Facebook groups are a goldmine for sourcing ideas for content (and even tools). So join all the groups if your niche and routinely check out the topics that the members seek advice on. If you see the same topic resurfacing multiple times, you might want to consider that.
Advanced LinkedIn groups
If you’re in B2B, you might want to join niche LinkedIn groups to uncover insights.
The most popular Q&A website, Quora, is another great resource for finding questions that bug your readers.
The front page of Internet is still a great place to find real user concerns.
This online education marketplace has courses in every niche. Browse through the courses in your niche and find out what downloadable materials the different courses offer. Often, these will have useful templates, checklists, or PDFs. These could be excellent ideas for developing link-worthy content on your blog.
Lots of people curate and discover interesting tools on Product Hunt. So, if you have the bandwidth to develop tools, this might be the only resource you’ll need to find a good tool idea.
Obtaining links to your web assets
Once you’ve picked a content or resource idea and developed it, your next step is to send some targeted traffic to it.
Since you’ll be picking an idea from the discussions on the above forums and Q&A sites, you can easily leave a comment introducing it on the same discussions. Naturally, your comment will be relevant, will add value, and solve the purpose of generating the initial momentum for your content.
Also, see if you can go for any low-hanging fruits here. For example, for my icon sets, I submitted them to free directories and gave it away to bloggers who blogged about free icons.
Once you get your awesome stuff out there, people will see its quality and the rest of the promotions will happen on autopilot. People will happily recommend your resources to their social circles and contacts without any prompting.
So these are my plans for getting some serious backlinks next year. What link building strategies will you be using in 2017?
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.