Today’s post (part 1 of 2) is going to be a real treat for digital marketers, especially those with a knack for link building. For this post, I reached out to a handful of the industry’s brightest and asked them to share with us what they believe the top three link building strategies will be in 2013. Before we jump in, I want to thank each of them for taking the time to put something together for us. There’s a lot of great information here, so brace yourselves!!
Let’s get started with Matt Siltala from Avalaunch:
1. Lets talk first about content. Not content for the sake of having content because that’s what everybody in SEO says we have to have now. Good content. Real content. The type of content that makes you want to give credit to the person who created it. I published my first infographic almost 6 years ago – this was YEARS before people were calling them infographics. Back then, and still to this day I call it good content. So whether its an infographic, or link bait article, something funny, a video or even just amazing basic content that is solving someone’s problem and answering a question, THAT is what is going to be building amazing links this year.
2. Lets talk about promotion. Yes you can have the most amazing content in the world, but if nobody see’s it, how are you ever going to build links from it? Every once in a while you might strike gold and get it seen by millions without lifting a finger, but reality (and history) tells me you are going to need to promote it. Right now Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, YouTube are on fire as far as sending traffic and helping build links, so I would focus on building up your presence in these communities so you can get your “amazing” content in front of some eyeballs. The awesome thing these days for bloggers and those pushing out content regularly is you don’t have to solely rely on Google anymore to send you traffic to your freshly indexed and hopefully ranking post. You can get eyeballs on it immediately through a community that is built up.
3. Lets talk a little bit about REAL PR. This is the year you need to step up your game and think outside the box (when it comes to link building). Think of doing something that will get people talking about you (and linking to you). Lots of community activities to get involved with, help in universities, charitable acts and other things that will do good, but at same time get you noticed. This is the kind of real life stuff that gets you the amazing links and trust.
Matt Siltala is an online search industry leader and President of Avalaunch Media, a content marketing company specializing in infographic marketing. Matt’s clients have included companies like Webtrends, Ancestry.com, The Home Depot, and ESRB.
Because of Matt’s passion for the online industry and all things IT, he loves collaborating with other industry leaders and speaking at search conferences like Pubcon, SMX, and Search Engine Strategies, and at other events and Universities across the country.
Before forming Avalaunch Media, Matt co-founded Dream Systems Media in 2005, and has started several highly successful e-commerce businesses beginning in 1998.
When Matt isn’t launching a new company or helping build value for his client’s, he enjoys traveling with his beautiful wife and 3 kids.
Link building changed over the course of 2012 as shady directories (especially free ones) and past manipulative ways of linking not only stopped counting for ranking, but also even turned toxic. Past sins of link building like comment spamming are now affecting almost every site that I see.
That said, link building in 2013 will continue to be important, but we must be smarter about it, especially with large companies. After all, no one wants another JCPenney on their hands!
In 2013, we are focusing on:
- Guest posting
1. Partnerships especially apply to hard-to-build-links B2B companies. These companies have suppliers, shipping, and other business partners who should be willing to link to them.
2. The partnerships also come into play with content. B2B products always have an intersection with the outside world, so producing content that speaks to those concerns is a way to get broader exposure (and links) to a B2B company. For B2C, the challenge is easier, though as we are now seeing a deluge of low-quality content will not work in 2013, and will not be linked to naturally.
3. A staple of any 2013 link builder’s repertoire is guest posting. The kind of guest posting that will work well in 2013 and beyond is branded editorial content that meets the reader’s needs. To be honest, in my opinion, links from this guest content are a secondary benefit at best – the major benefit is the relationship built with the blogger/site and the potential for future work together.
John Doherty is the Director of Distilled NYC, a search marketing consulting firm in Manhattan, with offices in London and Seattle as well. His writing can be found on his personal marketing website, SEOmoz, Distilled, and recently SingleGeared. In his free time he is a Brooklynite, where he also rock climbs. His other passions include skiing, traveling, and photography.
1. New Visual, Interactive Content Types – Marketers that take advantage of the full capabilities of the browser in their content will have a significant advantage. In the new ‘content arms race’, marketers working with new forms of content – along with great messages – will have a big advantage.
2. Social Monitoring and Creating Brand Evangelists – As the social web continues to develop and old-school SEO tactics get burnt out, it’s easier to find people already talking about your brand and convince them to link to you, rather than trying to create relationships from scratch.
We’re excited about using social monitoring to find people who have websites and already like a brand, and then working with those influencers further for link development.
For example, our customer Grasshopper was very successful generating both inbound links and building their brand through word-of-mouth and buzz marketing. Their community manager would offer to take people Tweeting about Grasshopper to coffee, or if they lived far away, he’d send them a Starbucks card. This was very effective in building goodwill, buzz and links among influencers.
3. Tools and Apps – Tools and apps aren’t new, but they’re great tactics, and they keep getting easier to make.
Tools are great because they deliver sustainable value – they will continue to attract traffic and links long after they’ve been built and launched.
With new, ever more powerful APIs released every day and web frameworks like Django and Ruby on Rails freely available, it’s easier than ever to make apps that deliver real value.
Paul May is the CEO and co-founder of BuzzStream. Paul is a serial entrepreneur, having spent his career starting and working on early stage startups
Prior to BuzzStream, he was a Principal at Orr Ventures, a seed venture fund, where he was brought in to serve as VP of Marketing for WaveBender. Paul has held senior roles in product, marketing, and business development at a number of successful companies, including SupportSoft, AlterPoint and BMC Software.
In no particular order, here are my top three strategies for 2013:
1. Helping Webmasters – It doesn’t have to be just with broken links, it could be anything. The reason it will continue to work is because it doesn’t leave any pattern and because it uses the age old law of reciprocity – I do something for you, you do something for me. Other ideas include fixing grammar & spelling, on-site crawl issues, 404s, and even malware.
2. Hopping on the phone – huge props to Stephanie St. Martin for putting together a practical guide on phone based outreach, because I think it’s going to be the next step for serious link builders. Yeah, hopping on the phone can suck to some, but having potential linkers seeing us as real people and not purely a digital signature will give you a huge edge in getting them to do what you want.
3. Expanding upon existing tactics – there’s no shortage of tactics out there, but I think we’ll see a lot more creativity in how these tactics & ideas are applied. For example, I’ve been doing a bit of link building with discounts, but instead of just EDU student discount programs, I’ve expanded it to alumni ones as well. The reason we’ll start to expand on them is because we’re starting to get pretty maxed out in term of what things we can offer in exchange for a link, but we’re no where close in what ways we can actually use those things we can offer. We’ve really only thought of a couple ways for each at best.
Jon Cooper is a link builder who blogs over at Point Blank SEO, a community & blog dedicated solely to the art of acquiring links. You can follow him on Twitter @PointBlankSEO and you can check out his link building course for beginners & experts.
Here are the top 3 most valuable link strategies that I see working well in 2013 and beyond:
1. Guest posting – if you can write relevant posts on popular blogs, not only can you get a link back to your website, but more importantly you can get thousands of visitors that can easily convert into revenue.
2. Creating great content – from infographics, to just plain old blog posts that are detailed, creating content is an easy way to get links. If you create good content, people will want to read it and naturally link to it.
3. Press – if you are looking for authoritative links, get press. I’ve found this to work year and after year. It’s a lot of work to come up with good stories that popular bloggers and journalist want to cover, but it works well.
The reason these 3 methods work well is because they are natural. You are creating value in exchange for a link versus going out there and begging for them.
Neil Patel is the co-founder of 2 Internet companies: Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. Through his entrepreneurial career he has helped large corporations such as Amazon, AOL, GM, HP and Viacom make more money from the web. By the age of 21 not only was he named one of the top influencers on the web according to the Wall Street Journal, but he was also named one of the top entrepreneurs in the nation by Entrepreneur Magazine. He has also been recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama. Neil has also received Congressional Recognition from the U.S. House of Representatives for his work in the nonprofit sector.
1. Community building allows you to generate a quality hub of targeted users. With a quality hub of targeted users, you can work on strategies to obtain links through smart content development, event participation, or simply asking (where appropriate) to be considered to share/link. The most recent community platform is Google+ Communities. Not only do they have a direct connection to Google but they will most likely be a direct ranking factor at some point. Even now there are indirect ranking factors such as personalized search that allows your brand more visibility to your community members. Other example communities of importance include Model Mayhem, Trip Advisor, Kiva, Fantasy Football, groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, and Twitter chats.
2. Personal outreach remains critical in 2013 because content writers need a reason to create a link to your content. It needs to be compelling and easy to do if they’ re going to take the extra step of assigning a link to your content. Rarely is a link to your content necessary but a simple request is often enough to pick up that link. Making a connection with writers not only helps you achieve links from their current content but provides a an connection for them to rely upon when writing their next story.
3. Videos are a great opportunity for building links to your site. Most companies are still not budgeting for video creation on a large scale. Done right you can provide your users, partners, vendors, and content creators with video to embed in their posts. When you organize your collection of videos in a resourceful way, your fans will link back to your collection for their readers to see what else you’ve produced. Understand what your audience wants from you. Then create great videos and organize them so they’ re easy to find, view, and share.
Ash Buckles is the President of the search engine optimization company, SEO.com. Under the direction of Ash, SEO.com has been ranked #1 search marketing agency in three consecutive reports by Website Magazine, most recently in February 2012. The Utah Valley Entrepreneurial Forum also selected SEO.com as one of the Top 25 Fastest Growing companies in Utah.
1. For bigger brands, I feel that link building with offline events is a big opportunity and one that hasn’t yet been utilized fully by SEOs. Running local meetups for customers and bloggers can lead to good relationships, good sentiment and good links.
2. Link building with images as your asset has always been a great technique and I can’t see that changing any time soon. If you have good quality, unique images that other people want to use, it is very easy to ask for credit links and they usually include branded anchor text which is what you need to be getting.
3. Guest blogging will keep working if you take the time to produce good quality content. It is becoming more competitive but it is still a good way to build links as long as you have decent quality control and good content. Tying in your guest blogging to a real, active Google+ profile will also be a good move I think as it can add a bit of weight to the content and help make it stand out amongst the low quality posts.
Paddy is an SEO Consultant working for Distilled in the London office. He has helped manage a number of SEO campaigns for companies around the world and is currently living in Queenstown, New Zealand where he is on sabbatical and writing his link building book.
1. Broken Link Building – I’m bully on broken link building for 2013. As its popularity rises I’m sure the returns will decline (yes, I’m partly to blame for this) but for now it remains a consistent means of building authority links to quality content on your domain. For the right company – namely large publishers of great content – broken link building is the single most scalable link building approach at the moment. And I think it will remain so moving forward.
2. Guest Posting with Custom Data – With the advent of these $40 guest posting services I think we’re seeing the quickening decline of large scale guest posting. That said, if you’re using customer surveys to source fresh, original data points for your content I think you’ll see more of the right doors open in your market. We’re already using surveys to create great onsite content, and just now beginning to use it systematically in our guest post content.
3. No-Scale Link Building (PR) – You probably won’t catch ME doing much of this in 2013, but I think it’s an important direction to look at, especially for in-house link builders and potentially small agencies that specialize in a single niche. Relationships build links – it’s that simple. Well ok, not THAT simple, especially not for agencies, but it’s the area that I think we’ll see link builders really start to concentrate on moving forward. And gosh if we could just figure out a way to scale it… 🙂
Garrett French is the CEO of Citation Labs, an agency where he connects businesses with the niche publishers that influence their target markets. Through his process he builds brand trust, buzz, relationships and links that drive targeted, algo-proof referral traffic to his clients websites.
1. Broken link building – here lies one of the last scalable techniques in link building, because it’s so effective. Make a great resource, add value back, and use templates to make the process more efficient. Repeat at scale, and then get quality links that actually drive good traffic on occasion.
2. Relationship building – obvious, but I think it’s something every vertical should do on top of the first part. Know people, nurture influencers, build connections – all of these things will go far to continuing your link growth in 2013.
3. Build the best stuff, period – connecting with the top two, the strain in 2013 should not be spent saying “how can we build links”, it should be spent “how can we make the best stuff in our space” – so much else will take care of itself if that is done. It’s that “build great content” answer, yes, but as it applies to this question, that’s how I’d respond.
Ross Hudgens is the founder of Siege Media, a digital marketing consultancy. He frequently writes about SEO and link building on his personal blog, and can also be found frequently speaking across the country on the same topics.
So there you have it. The top link building strategies for 2013. I know where I’m going to be spending my time this year when link building for clients 🙂
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with other digital marketers and also check out part two, where the ladies of digital marketing share their opinion on link strategies! If you have any questions or would like to add your opinion, please share in the comments section below.