Seems like Google tweaks its algorithm every day, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the centrality of link building in determining search results. Quality editorial links acquired organically will always crush paid, low-quality, instant-gratification links. That’s because in addition to seeming high-quality, sites with organic links tend to be high-quality, and ultimately search engines want to satisfy users. It’s not easy to acquire those quality organic links, but we’ve put together our favorite tips and tricks to give you a head start. (These tips all assume that you are producing well-conceived and excellently executed content that readers will find interesting. If you’re not doing that, none of these ideas will ultimately be successful.)
Pick the Low-Hanging Fruit
Most of our tips are focused on how best to promote the dynamic content you’ve created based on your own great ideas, but this first tip is all about reverse-engineering so you can grab some of the low-hanging fruit.
Mine for broken links: This is a several-step process that you can learn about in detail here, but the short story is you scour the Web for a broken link that points to content that no longer exists, recreate the content and convince the webmaster to replace the broken link with yours. A recent study found that among 55 sites scanned, 89 percent had some broken links, so the potential for success should be high in any niche. Additionally, you can double-dip by doing outreach to other sites that also list the broken link.
Brew a hot take: Contrarian opinions, unpopular views on cultural events and myth-busting are all natural attention magnets. It’s crucial to make sure there’s sufficient traffic in the topic area (and that your idea hasn’t already been done), and ideally, you’d take a position you actually believe rather than simply being argumentative.
Be a better guest: While the effectiveness of guest blogging is somewhat in question (or totally dead, according to a former Google engineer), you can still make some hay by participating in a guest blogging program. Don’t treat a guest blog any different than you would content for your own site. Think of it as a way of getting your good content in front of people you know are already interested in the topic.
Steal the Spotlight (and the Directory)
Explore directories published by associations or organizations you’re a member of, such as a local business group or alumni organization, and submit your content, or even pitch a spotlight feature about your business. Colleges and universities in particular are always looking to promote successful graduates. The same goes for clients, particularly if they hail from prestigious institutions or college in geographic areas you’re focusing on.
You Can Quote Them on That
You’ve worked to develop a strong sense of authority about the topics you focus on. That not only attracts readers, but it will help you build a network of experts who can further help you raise your credibility. You could cite a high-authority publication that quotes an expert you trust or, even better, conduct an interview of your own with the person. Your own interview is ideal because you give yourself a chance to craft some insightful questions that lead to revelatory answers that will provide real resources for your readers. And you should always say yes if someone wants to interview you, whether for an article or a podcast.
The Most Best Top Titles of 2018
We don’t like giving out those “One Easy Trick” tips because none of this stuff is necessarily easy, and, well, we don’t like the taste of spam, but this one really is kind of easy. Because people generally want to find the newest information, consider using a year in your content title. This works throughout the year, but it can be especially effective near the end of the year when paired with content that speaks to trends to expect in the coming year. And don’t forget organic use of superlative words and phrases like:
You’ll note that the heading of this tip is an example of what not to do. It’s crucial to make your titles read like normal speech, so best practices on avoiding keyword stuffing still apply here. Pairing this tip with resurrecting some zombie content can really pay dividends, as you can quickly generate what feels like new content.
Similarly, reasonable application of numbers in titles has shown to be effective (like with the very article you’re reading), though it’s often overdone.
We Need Some Answers
You can ask search engines about pretty much anything. Not sure how to tie a tie? Want to know what to write in a coworker’s birthday card? Unsure how much your dog is supposed to weigh? Just Google it. Every question has probably been asked, but they haven’t all been answered. This is where your expertise can come in handy. Monitor sites like Quora, Twitter and Yahoo! Answers and chime in with detailed responses in your field of expertise and include links to content where people can learn more. As always, the key is to provide actual answers in an organic way. Don’t try to force a link and consider linking not only to your content but to some other authoritative source. If you do this regularly, over time you establish yourself as a true expert interested in engaging in lively discussion about a topic. If your industry is active on Reddit or other social message boards, establish a presence there as well.
You’re a Natural (Resource)
A cousin to fishing for dead links is digging up resource pages. There are resource pages out there for pretty much any niche you can imagine, and they exist solely to link to other pages. The idea here is to find a quality resource page (you always want high-quality links; trying to get listed on terrible websites will do more harm than good in the long run, even if it’s easier) and get your site listed on the page as a resource. Here’s how you do it:
- Google something like “Niche” + “resource page”
- Determine if the page is worth a backlink
- Identify a piece of content that fits organically
- Contact the webmaster and see if they’d be willing to list your link
You never want to feel spammy, so check out this awesome script Backlinko put together. Use that as inspiration to understand how to approach the resource page webmaster. Think of it like this: If you maintained a resource page, how would someone be able to interest you in including them? Probably not with a generic message. It’s all about providing value.
None of these tips are magic, and that’s because there is no secret code to building quality backlinks to your content. It’s about hard work. But that makes sense, right? There’s no magic bullet to creating the great, engaging content you produce, so it follows that promoting that content isn’t a matter of casting a spell. But employing one or two (or a combination of all of these) techniques will put you well on your way to leveling up your content marketing efforts.