The first Owned track session of Day Two of SES San Francisco was with Jon Ball of conference sponsor Page One Power, titled Link Building That Makes Sense. In addition to elaborating on concrete strategies, he also explained that we need to not think of links directly, but rather of the people behind the websites we want links from. Ball explained that link building is a people business, and if the only way you get a link back to your site is through a robot, then you’re doing it wrong.
Concrete Link Building Strategies
Ball gave several great strategies for link building, including blogging and guest blogging, badging, reclaiming 404s, and providing libraries of information.
Blogging & Guest Blogging: Vital to White Hat Building
Blogging gives you a voice and presence online, magnifies your search terms by 100x, and establishes your authority. To blog on your own website, you should determine who your audience is, then get keyword lists and begin brainstorming blog titles. Ball recommended providing provocative “Worst Of” posts (since many blogs only do “Best Of” posts), as well as publishing interviews with experts in your industry, even the competition. Your interviewees will share and promote these posts, thus creating more links.
When it comes to guest blogging, you need to find your target sites by doing a search for an industry keyword and then phrases like “write for us”, “contribute”, “guest blog”, and “guest post”. Once you have compiled a list of blogs to target, write them a personal email, naming something specific that you like about a post or article they recently published.
Be a Resource
Ball stated that by being a high-quality resource in your industry, you will continuously receive links.
This may include:
- “Building a Museum”: Be a resource for vintage or historical artifacts and news in your industry.
- Make a glossary for your industry
- Build libraries of information: images, videos, original documents (especially for scientific content), and original research. Ask for links if people want to use the information.
- Badging: This entails the practice of designing a visually appealing award or recognition badge that users can place on their own website, which sets your organization up as an industry leader that commends other experts. You should build recognition badges for related sub-categories. This would include things like: top 10 lists, rewarding best customers, and recognizing experts.
- 404 Reclamation: Get a list of your competitors backlinks and push them through a URL checker tool. When their links are broken, contact the webmaster recommend your link as a resource for their content.
Main Session Takeaways
- Think of the people behind the websites, not just about the links you can get
- Search for industry keywords and common phrases like community, forum, association, etcetera to find related websites where you can get links.
- For guest blogging pitches, make it unexpected, pique their interest, and never use canned email content. Be very specific: “I enjoyed your blog post on spilled ketchup….” and just talk to them like a person.
- Don’t mess with YouTube for link building, just for traffic (same with other social media sites)
- In your author bio for guest posts, ask for a link to the writer’s Google+ authorship profile and one other external link. Webmasters are more likely to give a Google+ in addition to an external link because it helps them too.