How do you get quality inbound links?
What would high-quality links do for your site?
Improve your rankings, yield more organic visitors and refer people from other sites.
Over the past years, Google has redefined the way links are built. But they didn’t bring anything new – but only moved towards building an information databank where search users can benefit from the search results. It’s always been their objective from day one.
If you find it difficult to employ tactical link building process for your site, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey by Search Engine Land, “75% of marketers believe that external link building is the most difficult SEO tactic of all. To them, it’s either “very difficult” or “somewhat difficult.”
And because of the perceived difficulty, only 56% of businesses embrace external link building – the remaining 44% avoids it.
It’s time to make a difference in your own site. If you want to earn inbound links, and not struggle to build it manually all the time, this post will help you. It’s more or less a step-by-step guide that will ensure you never have to hunt for high value links again.
You can use these 5 proven step-by-step strategies to earn high-quality inbound links to your site every single day:
1. Create ego-baits
Do you want to get the attention of key influencers in your niche? All you need is a well-crafted strategy that capitalizes on their ego. In freudian psychology, ‘ego’ is that part of the mind that contains the consciousness. It’s self-esteem.
Who doesn’t want that?
What is ego-bait?
Ego-bait is a unique form of linkbait or clickbait. Essentially, it follows these patterns:
Crowdsourced content: By this, you'll get other writers, A-list bloggers, site owners and social media influencers involved on your blog content.
With your creativity (yes, you've it), write about someone else, their concepts, ideas or opinions in an interesting manner. Most bloggers only leverage expert interviews to persuade and earn inbound links, but it's beyond that.
You can tap into this dominant resource – ‘inflated opinion of self’ to earn the right type of links every single day. When properly leveraged, 78% of A-list bloggers and content marketers whom you target will not escape it. Guaranteed!
I practice what I preach. In 2012, I got the likes of Tim Ferriss, Bob Carson (Godaddy’s CEO) on this list and eventually earned an editorial link with .edu SEO juice at the University of Georgia resource page.
Trust me, nothing comes easy, not even ideas for this kind of article. But I’ll show you exactly how I go about it. Let’s do it:
1). Research viral ideas: All ideas are not created equal. Some ideas will be shared, while others, which do not resonate with the target audience will suffer. In order to make your ego-bait content go viral, you’ve to study content that got thousands of social shares and natural citations.
In a bid to understand what makes content to catch fire, two Wharton professors, Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman conducted a research entitled, “What Makes Online Content Go Viral.”
They found 3 powerful elements that triggers virality. If you can leverage just one trigger, you’ll be able to create shareable ego-baits anytime you so desire. Here they are:
a). Information that convey positive outlook: Being negative not only devalues you, but also people around you. When you’re looking to create ego-baits that people will share, stay glued on the positive side or pleasant accomplishments of power users.
If they were bankrupt, don’t share the sad story. But if they donated a huge sum to the charity, talk about it. It’d make them feel on top of the world.
b). Show some emotion: The human brain is emotionally-wired. This is why you love your kids so much, and wouldn’t want anything awful to happen to your spouse. It’s emotion.
In their words, Milkman and Berger said that, “content that evokes high-arousal emotions (anxiety, anger, awe etc) inspires more people to share it, especially the awe-inspiring information which sends positive emotion in the air.”
c). Dazzle the audience with usefulness: Berger and research colleague found that useful content will always get the attention of the media and industry experts. Useful content with quality visual information is likely got get more social shares. But has anyone told you what “quality” content really means?
Well, it’s time to ditch the idea of quality, and simply create content that is helpful, valuable, practical (can be implemented right away), interesting, and entertaining (be keen on humor). It could be a blog post, an article, a tutorial video, online course or report that is useful – that’s what you need to attract social love. Period!
If you can create ego-bait content based on one of the triggers above (positive, emotion or useful), the chances of going viral and earning links are high. The best way to find ideas that have gone viral in the past is by using Buzzsumo.
Go to Buzzsumo.com. On the homepage, type in the primary keyword you’d want to target when creating your ego-bait, hit the ‘Go’ button.
Next, set your filter to ‘past month.’ This will ensure that you get latest content with the most shares, within the past of 30 days.
Finally, analyze your results.
The screenshot above shows blog content targeted “social media strategy” in the past 30 days that got the most shares all over the world. I highlighted two of the headlines, because I can create an attention-grabbing headline ideas from them.
Since your primary objective is to interview other bloggers and content marketer in your industry, you can create your headline by modelling those successful ones:
Viral headline above:
How To Build a Social Media Strategy That Works
Ego-bait headline ideas:
27 Social Influencers On How To Develop a Social Media Strategy
How To Develop a Social Strategy: What 17 Social Media Giants Did
Viral headline above:
The Best of Social Media Strategy with Sarah Robins
Ego-bait headline ideas
13 Power Users Share The Best of Social Media Tools That Works
Get More Social Power with This 27 Social Media Strategy Tools
Note: You may notice that I used odd numbers (13, 27,…) more in my headlines. The reason is because odd numbers tend to do better. A study by Content Marketing Institute found that adding an odd number on headlines will generate 20% higher click-through rate than headlines with even numbers.
2). Monitor traffic potentials: You’ve to know the potentials of your ego-bait. You do this by studying the bloggers or influencers that you want to include on the post. Most of them have lots of social media fans, email subscribers and receive thousands of search traffic daily.
So, go ahead and plug your headline into Google to see the top web pages that are ranking in Google top 10. Those are your target. If you get any of those influencers to cite your link or tweet your link to their fans, you’ll get more qualified visitors and natural links as well.
Blogs ranking highly in Google are great for including in your ego-bait content. In fact, you could even create a post titled:
21 Practical Posts on Social Media Strategy From 15 Experts
On the post, highlight the pages that you saw on the top 10, link to them and let the author, writer or blog owner know about it. You should earn natural links just by sending a simple email. Here’s a sample that I currently use:
Hi [name of blogger],
How are you doing?
My name is [put your full name here] and I’m the founder of [your blog url here]
I know you’re busy doing awesome (boost their ego) work,
but just to give you a head up that I’ve published the post we talked about.
Here is the link [put the complete live URL of the post here].
If you like it, then your readers will benefit from it as well.
Thanks for sharing the post in advance.
I’m so grateful for your time.
[Put your name here]
[Paste the complete live url of the post here]
Alternatively, go to Twazzup.com. Plug your main keyword “social media strategy” into the search box.
This simple twitter monitoring tool will show you how many experts have tweeted about ‘social media strategy’ in the past few days. Take a look at the number of followers to give you an idea on the traffic & link potentials of interviewing any of the social media influencers.
3). Trigger emotions with your headlines: 8 out of 10 people will read your headline. According to Ted Nicholas, the renowned direct response copywriter, “73% of buying decisions are made at the point of contact with the headline.”
Do you still recall the academic study on why content goes viral? Emotion is one of the triggers. In other words, if your content can take on the wings of emotion, people (the right audience of course) will respond, because they’re primarily driven by emotion.
This is also the same psychological concept behind copy that sells. Smart copywriters know that customers buy products out of emotion, and tend to justify by logic – so from the headline down to the call-to-action and guarantee, every word, sentence image or chart is aimed at appealing to buyers emotion.
So what draws people and increases their desire for your content? Words!
Words are the raw materials for feeding people’s emotion. If you want more traffic, know the right words to use in your content. When you email A-list bloggers to ask for links, be careful about the words you use – use power words instead.
By adding power words in your headline, you’ll build interest and create strong desire for your ego-bait content. That’s how to get more people to share it, and even ask for more. This is the secret used by Gawker Media, Upworthy, ViralNova and others to create viral content on a regular basis.
Some of the power words used by David Ogilvy are:
So you can integrate some of them into your ego-bait headlines like this:
55 Easy To Use Social Media Optimization Plugins Used By Top Bloggers
7 Amazing Secrets Used By 13 Top SEO Experts To Drive Organic Traffic
4). Attract top industry experts: The best way to attract industry experts is by creating content that has never been seen anywhere. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a new idea out of the box, but you can approach it from a unique angle.
First, make sure that your headline is not found anywhere on the search result. If you find similar, rewrite it until it’s 100% unique. When searching, make sure you enclose the headline in quotes (“”).
Secondly, you’ve got to find the contact address of the expert that you want to reach/interview. This is a major challenge when creating ego-bait content, because most of these industry experts are too busy to hang around on twitter or facebook.
But they adore their inbox. If only you can get in – they’ll respond to your message. So how do you find the contact information of your preferred expert?
The easy path is to check their ‘contact page.’ You may find it there, or a direction on how to cut through the noise and get in touch. So let’s assume that I want to interview Chris Brogan. First, I’ll head to his blog and check his contact page.
Fortunately, Chris specified on his contact page that the best way to get in touch with him is by filling out the form.
But what if the blogger or author didn’t specify their email address or the best way to contact them? Better yet, you wouldn’t want to fill the contact form all the time and your email end up getting ignored or deleted by a virtual assistant.
You want to get the blog owner directly. For example, let’s say you want to interview Darren Rowse, founder of problogger.net. Here’s how to find his primary (important) email address.
Just go to VoilaNorbert.com.
Fill in the person’s full name by the left box, and their domain name accordingly. Click the “green button.
When pitching your idea or sending your questionnaire, remember to address the influencer by their real name. Don’t ever say, ‘hi friend or hi dear.’ They’re neither your friend or dearie. Lol!
Again, don’t send the same email template to every expert. You’ve got to tweak, and customize it for each person.
2. Advanced guest blogging
Guest blogging has always been an effective way to drive traffic and build links. Both beginners and experts use it.
Despite Matt Cutts frowning at it once, he can’t stop it, because it makes the web go round. In fact, most of the authority sites out there like Mashable, Techcrunch, Business Insider and even wikipedia aren’t single-handedly managed.
Yes, they have in-house authors who understands the value of usefulness in a piece of content, but that’s a type of guest blogging too, because the site accepts articles from different contributors. However, what you should focus on, which Google has always been calling out is practical, valuable and richer content that helps the user.
The ‘advanced’ guest blogging simply means that you should take it a step further to understand the audience that you’re writing for, and the the past content they’ve made popular. Because in today’s SEO and media world, it’s the public that decides whose content becomes popular – not the owner.
The quality of the site you pitch your idea or topic matters. Focus on quality, over quantity and you’ll earn more links. Follow these simple steps:
1). Define your ideal audience: To get started on this ‘advanced guest blogging,’ you’ve to know your ideal audience. I’m talking about the people whom you want to attract on your blog as a result of your guest articles.
Most blogs I know write about SEO, social media, blogging, conversion rate and so on. If you’re like that and you just started out – you’re doing yourself a big disservice.
Narrow down your niche.
Social media or SEO are huge niche markets to take up a bunch of your time. Relevance is better than being clever. And to be relevant, you’ve to know what you want and what they’re interested in.
Any site that you want to pitch a guest post, you’ve to study the audience demographics, so that you can write content that appeals to them. For example, if you want to pitch a guest post to Marketingprofs.com, let me show you the demographics of the readers in five steps:
i). Audience research: Go to Alexa.com. On the homepage, plug in the url (marketingprofs.com). Click the ‘Go.’
ii). Geographical location: Next, scroll down the page and you’ll find exactly where the audience (marketingprof’s readers are located):
Since majority of the readers are from U.S., it means that you can reference stats, and case studies that are known to the reader in your guest post. From the list of countries, there is no China or Germany. So I’ll avoid mentioning any data from those places. Got it?
iii). Engagement: Now we want to know how engaged the target audience is. This is important so that when I write a guest article, I know for certain how much conversion rate I’d likely get.
For example, if the time spent on site is 2 seconds, then I know how to structure my content in order to drive clicks before the readers click away. Just scroll down the page and you’ll find the engagement metrics.
iv) Audience Demographics: When you scroll down the Alexa results page, you’ll find the demographics. From the screenshot below, you’ll notice that more people read articles on the site from work and school. The audience comprises of more female than male who have graduated college or degree.
2). How to pitch, and get a yes: In order to land your guest post on a trusted blog with thousands of readers, social media fans and network, all you’ve to do is upgrade one of their popular posts.
How do you find their popular posts? It’s easy because most blogs have it on their sidebar.
So let’s take 2 headlines from the ‘most popular’ posts above and make it ready for pitching. You simply have to write a much clickable headline, and add power words.
Bye-Bye to These 10 Web Design Trends
Fresh headline hacks:
Quick Step-by-Step Guide To Get Your Web Design User-friendly
Why These 10 Web Design Trends Needs To Go and What To Focus On
Better yet, pick one of their recent posts and make it better. Tell the author or editor that you can elaborate on the topic, with data to back up opinions. In other words, your post will look exactly like the one you’re reading.
Some of the clickable headlines you can create from the recent articles on your target blog are:
13 Smart Ways To Improve Your Search Rankings by 116%
Case Study: How I Improved My Search Rankings In 57 Days
Note: These headlines are all data-driven, and will not be denied. Listen up: I’ve been using this exact strategy for the past 3 years to craft attention-grabbing headlines that wow blog editors and influential people.
You can model this email template when pitch your guest post to any editor, no matter how big the blog is – don’t be scared.
Hi [name of editor or expert]
I hope you’re doing great today?
My name is [your name here]. I run a [subject blog] at [your blog url]
I just read one of your [recent or old] blog posts right here:
[paste the exact article you read on their blog].
Here’s what I learnt:
[highlight 2 or 3 things you learnt by reading the article
in bullet points]:
However, I discover that the post didn’t meet up with
my expectations, so I thought it’d be nice if I expand on it.
I can make it better, with accurate data, well researched case
studies and write a more in-depth article – 2000+ words.
Here’s my headline idea [paste your headline here].
Once I hear from you, I’ll start writing and get back
to you as soon as I can.
[your name here]
[your blog url here]
3. Corporate product mentions
If you want to earn quality links every single day, all you’ve to do is target company (corporate) sites.
These sites mostly have software that they want to sell. They’re desperately looking for link mentions or product reviews. Most of them are not willing to pay for your reviews, but will give you a link back. Company sites like to hone their achievements (ego). Like this:
They also want to increase social proof by highlighting on their main site that their product or site was mentioned by other sites. You may just be one of them.
Kenneth Ferdinand, CEO of queryletters.com recently reviewed the top 50 CRM software for small business.
Once the post went live, he used one of the email templates I showed you earlier, emailed the editors or marketing experts and generated 84 quality links.
You’ve lots of sub-niches in your industry to explore. You’ve software and tools that automates sales, keywords, link building, outreach and so on. The web is literally your oyster when it comes to targeting corporate sites to earn authority links.
This means that your links will not only boost your web pages ranking, but will affect your overall search performance and help Google build a better knowledge bank – based on what users truly want.
You know that increasing the quality of links to your site will make a whole lot of difference. To a large extent, you control the quality of links that you get. Remember that all links are not created equal – quality is always better than quantity.
Go ahead, use these few link building strategies to build for the future. Because no matter what Google throws at you, if the foundation of your links are strong and juicy, you’ll sustain your rankings and traffic.
What other proven ways do you scale your link building for the future?