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Build Links Backwards

What would you do for a link you really wanted? Would you beg? Plead? Pay? Stand on your head? Kill a man? Ok, if you’d do the last one, stop here, and reconsider your life choices. Everyone else can keep reading.

Content creation starts in a ton of ways; research, conjecture, tequila, current events… ideas come from everywhere. But it often ends with making something you think is awesome, promoting the hell out of it and hoping it gets links. But, just to shake things up, why not throw the process in reverse and build links backwards?

One of the things that inspired this post was something Wiep Knol wrote a couple of years ago in a post about Authority Links he said, “Contact websites and ask what they’re looking for.”

Wow, what a concept.

Instead of trying to create something that MIGHT appeal to the masses; why not create something that WILL appeal to a few?

Yes, this is not the fastest approach to building links. If you’re looking for speed and quantity, it’s your turn to quit reading. Congrats though, you made it slightly further than the sociopaths. For you, there is a barely literate guy with an automated program who can build “100 high quality link to you site today”, he’s got exactly what you think you want.

However, if you’re willing to spend the time it takes to get a high quality link, and yeah that one was singular on purpose, then this method might appeal to you.

Here’s the program, ready?

  • Find Great sites or great pages (one specific, strong page you want to be listed on)
  • Make contact
  • Have a conversation
  • Do the work
  • Get the link.
  • Ask for promotion.

Ok, now here’s the long version

Find Great Sites and Great pages

Here are some ideas of what qualifies as a “great” site

Relevant blogs with a large following – Look at the blog’s subscriber base, social media following and the number and quality of the comments on the posts. These are some indicators aside from just blog’s back links that will tell you if it’s “worth” writing for.

Educators that have websites – College professors and school teachers in particular tend to be very busy and probably have a thing or two they wish they could reference but don’t have the time to create themselves. They might consider it very generous on your part if you offered to do it for them.

News Outlets – Aside from reporters that are always looking for a story, I don’t know about your but my local paper actually has several individual blogs on their website. A great way to get on a newspaper site is to get in with one or two bloggers. Radio, and television can be similar, particularly the local stations. It might be easier than you’d think to get in touch with a local on-air personality.

Professional associations – These websites often link out to other sources of information. And often there are several different groups which could be relevant to an industry. The trick is to hunt down the person who makes the decisions on what gets linked to.

A Site which could send traffic –Yes this is vague, but finding a site like this means thinking like your customers. Any kind of an informational website discussing your kind of product or service that could send a lot of qualified traffic your way would fit in this category.

Make Contact/ Have a Conversation

After you’ve pinpointed the site or sites you want to target, make contact. The key is to sound like a normal person not like a pushy, sketchy, marketer. Basically, pretend you’re not a link monger. So, you may need to suck it up and read or listen to something they have done. Have an idea of who this person is.  Is this mildly stalkerish? Eh, only slightly, but in a totally non-threatening sort of way.

Open ended questions can be useful, but you might want to be a little more specific than “So, what would you like to link to?” Don’t make this person do your brainstorming for you. It helps to have a few ideas already bouncing around your head. Something like:

Hey Name

Read/saw/heard your article/news story/radio segment on “blah blah”. Insert intelligent comment or observation here.

I was wondering if you might be interested an article about [Insert an idea]


I was wondering what kind of research or resources you wish existed on the subject of [Insert subject]

I’m thinking of writing something in that area and would love your feed back about what you think would be worth linking to and sharing with your readers/viewers/listeners/.

Another option is to send out a brief survey to a number of sites that you want links from, to find out if there are any common interests in terms of topics. The keyword here is BRIEF though. A few loaded questions on specific topics should help you get what you need, and now you have a group of people who feel invested in the process, which helps increase the likelihood that they will link to the finished product.

Do the work

This is the hardest part. But there’s no way around it. Block out a few hours, grab a hot pocket, and dig in. Before you know it you’ll have created something you’re actually proud of and become a mini expert on a new topic. For bonus points whip out some of your new found knowledge at a party this weekend.

Get the Link and Ask for Promotion

Once you’re done, contact the person who inspired the creation. You might even want to credit them at the end of your piece. Offer gratitude for the help and let them know that the resource was created because of them and that you hope they like it enough to link to it. Unless you really dropped the ball on the “Do the Work” part of the process, you stand a really good shot at getting the link. Don’t forget to throw in a request for a quick tweet or a “share” on a social bookmaking site if they really like it.

Déjà vu

If parts of this sound sort of familiar, it’s because there’s a lot of over lap with the process of finding guest blogging opportunities and writing the posts. The only difference is that you get to keep the asset. Rather than giving someone a terrific article that picks up back links over time for their site, your site reaps the long haul benefits.

If the whole process seems way too time consuming, consider this before going back to your usual template. Cheap, worthless links aside, the value vs the expense of these links is worth it. If you were buying a link, links of this quality could potentially cost hundreds of dollars, a month, in addition to the cost of the time to find the contacts and negotiate the deal.

When there is a site whose link juice you crave like a Klondike bar, go after it. But be smart about it and you may find if you give them what they want, there’s a really good chance; you’ll get what you want.

Category SEO
Jennifer Van Iderstyne Internet Marketing

Jennifer Van Iderstyne is an SEO Specialist at Internet Marketing Ninjas, formerly WeBuildPages. Internet Marketing Ninjas is a full service ...

Build Links Backwards

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