45 Link Building Tips, Tactics, and Strategies

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Loz James recently interviewed 33 SEO experts and asked them to share their most effective link building strategies.

I broke it down into a quick list of strategies for easy reference. I added some notes (in red) and also a few of my own tips at the end.

  1. Write awesome content and share like crazy on Twitter (I pull 7-10+ tips from each article and schedule using HootSuite)
  2. Embed offers in the content
  3. Use trackable links for outreach
  4. Get links from relevant resource/links pages
  5. Infographics still work (if done right)
  6. Do smart guest posting (high quality, relevant sites)
  7. Curate resources to build great content
  8. Perform outreach to the people you’ve linked to in your article
  9. Get links to educational content on library or school resource pages
  10. Give related sites custom coupons to give their readers
  11. Thought leadership + bios & interviews, for example speaking, podcasts, online hangouts, etc.
  12. Create online tools, calculators, and interactive data
  13. Participate in or run a monthly blog carnival for your niche
  14. Build relationships with content curators in your niche
  15. Get links from Wikipedia (check out WikiGrabber)
  16. Use HARO and MuckRack to connect with journalists and reporters
  17. Build your own Private Blog Network and don’t use someone else’s
  18. 404 link reclamation (identify errors in Google Webmaster Tools)
  19. Pay big bloggers in your industry to guest post on your blog
  20. Identify and claim existing citations and develop further local citations (Brightlocal put together an awesome list of 1000+ citation sites)
  21. Broken link building (check out brokenlinkbuilding.com)
  22. Find other people’s successful content and offer to enhance it with your own expertise or data
  23. Sponsor events, charities, and organizations
  24. Create a scholarship for your industry (I’ve never tried this, but this scholarship management service looks cool)
  25. Offer testimonials to any business you’ve hired or worked with
  26. Monitor for brand mentions and request links where your brand is referenced (check out Moz’s Reclaim Links tool if you have an account or set up Google Alerts for free)
  27. Use the Skyscraper technique (from Brian Dean)
  28. Offer senior or veteran discounts and look for pages that list these discounts
  29. Give influencers an early look at new features to get great reviews
  30. Build backlinks to your backlinks to make them stronger
  31. Participate in industry-related forums
  32. Do internal linking
  33. Use targeted social media buys to get content in front of influencers

It’s a great list of strategies, but here are a few more I would add.

  1. Run a contest or giveaway
  2. Promote your best content in amplification services like Outbrain, Zemanta and NRelate
  3. Do expert interviews (just like the 33 SEO Experts article this is based on)
  4. Look for podcast interview opportunities on RadioGuestLists.com
  5. Get listed in local Chamber of Commerce websites
  6. Start marketing on SlideShare
  7. Set up a Triberr.com account
  8. Get links from partner/vendor pages
  9. Get links where your competitors are getting links (run your competitors through Open Site Explorer, Majestic, or ahrefs
  10. Offer your products to bloggers for review (check out BzzAgent.com, BloggersRequired.com, and Tomoson
  11. Look for Twitter fans who own blogs and who aren’t linking to you
  12. Look for people using your images and ask them for a link. Try ImageRaider or TinEye

Image: It’s about rules and strategy” by pshutterbug is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Best Practices for Syndicating Your Content

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I have a client who was contacted by Written.com, a content syndication company, about syndicating one of their blog posts for a three month period on one of Written.com’s customer’s websites.

My client wanted my opinion of content syndication so I gave them some advice based on my own knowledge of the topic.

I haven’t syndicated any of my own content, but this is a common question I’ve received over the years, so I’ve done a fair amount of research on it.

The Types of Content Syndication Licenses

To start, here are the different types of licenses that Written.com offers.

  • Content & Traffic License – The original content is republished on the brand’s website and the original article must be redirected, sending all traffic from the originating site to the brand’s site. The article will have a byline and link to the author’s website
  • Branded Post License – The article remains on the original publishers website, but the design and branding of the page is changed. The brand is now a sponsor of the page.
  • Syndication License – The brand republishes the article on their site while allowing the original publisher to also keep their article online. The brand will rel=canonical the brand’s page so that search engines don’t see it as duplicate content.

Content & Traffic License

This is probably the worst of all three options because it sends people away from the original publisher’s site.

I don’t know if Written.com requires a 301 or a 302 redirect, but I would request a 302 so that the search engines know that the original page is coming back.

Another potential issue here is that a random redirect to a different domain can be seen as spam or unnatural link building by the search engines.

That’s obviously not what’s happening here, but we don’t know if the search engines can tell the difference. Google might think something shady is happening and could inflict a penalty.

Branded Post License

The Branded Post License isn’t terrible since the content is still on the original site.

Written.com says that the styling around the original article is changed, but in their image example, it looks like they just want to add advertisements to the page.

It really depends on how much of the design they change before I can make a decision on this one.

If they are completely changing the style of the page, I would say no to this license because it could be jarring for regular readers, but if the only changes are the addition of ads, it’s probably not a bad deal.

Syndication License

The SafeSyndication license is the best model in my opinion and one that most online marketers seem to recommend as well.

Moz has actually done a Whiteboard Friday on syndicating content and this type of license is exactly what was recommended.

Conclusion

Written.com looks like a neat service.

I don’t know what they pay, but it’s nice that they offer various options based on the needs of their customers.

I was especially surprised to see that they were open and willing to place rel=canonical tags on the republished content.

There are some benefits to syndicating content.

It’s a great way to get noticed by different audiences in places where you otherwise could have never reached them. It can send new customers and also help build your brand.

But if you’re not careful, it can also do just the opposite. If your content is being syndicated on low quality sites or if the proper precautions aren’t taken (such as rel=canonical), you could risk penalties.

If you’re thinking about syndicating your content, make sure you know all the details of the agreement before signing the contract.

The Head of The Google’s Webspam Team Has Announced The Death of The Guest Post

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* Photo by Alan Bruce / CC BY 2.0

Matt Cutts has finally gotten tired of getting spammy guest post requests because he blew up on his blog today with the claim that “guest blogging is done.”

That’s quite the announcement!

Matt goes on to say “Given how spammy it’s become, I’d expect Google’s webspam team to take a pretty dim view of guest blogging going forward.”

This blog post freaked a lot of people out today and I think that was Matt’s intention. He wants everyone to know that Google is eventually going to scrutinize sites with a high ratio of guest post links and they might penalize sites that publish that content too.

How Not To Guest Post

If you read Matt’s post carefully, you’ll see that he’s really just saying the same thing he’s said before. Spammy guest posts on low quality sites is going to get you in trouble.

Look at the problems he describes.

  • People are asking for dofollow links
  • People are not researching their prospect (Asking Matt Cutts for a guest post?)
  • People are trying to get guest post on a site that doesn’t allow guest posts
  • People are asking to pay for PageRank links
  • People are posting on low quality, spammy sites

How You Should Do Guest Posts From Now On

Matt later added an update to his post mentioning that guest posts really aren’t that bad, as long as they are done correctly. The old strategy of pitching a blog and hiring freelance writers with no expertise from content writing services isn’t going to work for much longer.

Here’s what you need to do to bulletproof your guest post strategy

  • Write content that you have expertise in, or…
  • Hire industry-expert authors to write for you
  • If you’re an agency, require that your clients contribute expert content
  • Avoid byline links. Get natural links in the content instead
  • Don’t use keyword-rich anchor text
  • Your link building strategy shouldn’t consist of a majority of guest posts
  • Build relationships, and trust, with your prospects
  • Reach out to only relevant websites
  • Stick to some quality guidelines (for example DA >30, MozRank >2)

Thanks You Spammers, For Ruining Guest Posting

No really, thank you. I mean it.

I absolutely hate spammy guest posts and I hate articles full of fluff written by people who have no expertise in what they’re writing about. That’s not to say that a professional writer with no expertise can’t put something great together, but it requires a lot of research and that requires higher fees, which many businesses aren’t willing to pay.

That all changes now.

I think Google is going to start putting the hurt on sites that have lopsided link profiles with a large ratio of guest posts and/or guest posts that are placed on mediocre sites.

If you want to protect your business from the wrath of Google, you need to provide expert content to highly respected websites in your niche. Start by building authentic relationships.

Book Review – APE: How to Publish a Book From Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch

When I heard that Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch had just published “APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book,” I requested a review copy. The book explains how to turn an idea into an outline, how to turn that outline into a book and how to self publish your own book.

I absolutely loved the detailed information that they provided in this book. I’ve thought about writing a book before but it wasn’t really a goal of mine. It’s not something I always hoped that I would do one day. That is until after reading APE.

I don’t even know what to write about but I feel like putting something together just so that I can follow the steps laid out in APE.

You know how when you see a fun DIY project online, like something on Instructables.com, and you think about how much fun it would be? APE makes me feel that way. It makes the whole book writing process so clear.

I actually did a review of Guy Kawasaki’s “Enchantment” a while ago, which I loved, so I couldn’t wait to start reading this one. Just like his last one, I couldn’t put APE down. Every time I’d get to the end of a chapter I couldn’t believe that it was over. Guy has a way of writing that’s not only extremely helpful, but actually a lot of fun to read. He has definitely made a fan out of me.

What’s Covered In This Book

Check out this full list of the chapters.

  • Should Write a Book?
  • A Review of Traditional Publishing
  • The Self-Publishing Revolution
  • The Ascent of Ebooks
  • Tools for Writers
  • How to Write Your Book
  • How to Finance Your Book
  • How to Edit Your Book
  • How to Avoid the Self-Published Look
  • How to Get and Effective Book Cover
  • Understanding Book Distribution
  • How to Sell Your Ebook Through Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, and Kobo
  • How to Convert Your File
  • How to Sell Ebooks Directly to Readers
  • How to Use Author-Services Companies
  • How to Use Print-on-Demand Companies
  • How to Upload Your Book
  • How to Price Your Book
  • How to Create Audio and Foreign Language Versions of Your Book
  • Self-Publishing Issues
  • How to Navigate Amazon
  • How to Guerrilla-Market Your Book
  • How to Build an Enchanting Personal Brand
  • How to Choose a Platform Tool
  • How to Create a Social-Media Profile
  • How to Share on Social Media
  • How to Comment and Respond on Social Media
  • How to Pitch Bloggers and Reviewers
  • How We APEd This Book

Anything you can think of is covered in one of these chapters. I am amazed at all of the great information they included here.

Cool Little Tidbits

As I mentioned before, writing a book was never something I had wanted to do, so obviously I’ve never done any type of research into what goes into the process. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how miserable the book writing/publishing process is though, so maybe that’s why I never cared to try it. Either way, I went into this book with no knowledge of the subject whatsoever and came out with all sorts of great info.

One of my favorite tips is to use the Espresso Book Machine from On Demand Books. Instead of using a blocked-off room of your house to stock pile a bunch of books that nobody wants, you can just let people order a book and Espresso Book Machine will print it out at the point of sale and ship it out. How awesome is that!

I also really liked the authors tips on promoting the book. They’re super-creative and they sound like they would be a lot of fun to do too. One example is the idea of getting shirts, buttons, stickers and other things printed and then handing them out as gifts.

They list many other marketing tips too, and the nice thing is that none are ridiculously expensive. Some of his most expensive marketing tactics were to create infographics or to run contests. I suppose infographics from a talented designer can get quite pricey ($400.00+), but in the scheme of things, it’s usually worth the cost.

They also discussed some great tips on using photos for social media profiles.

  • You should have a big smile in your profile photo
  • Use a close shot of the face
  • Photo should be asymmetrical
  • Image needs to be high quality
  • Use your real face. No cartoons, logos, pets or kids

Guy actually talked about several of these tips in his book “Enchantment”.

In APE, they also talked about things like the best times of the day to share (Twitter, Facebook, Google+), how to use hash tags, why you should repeat tweets, and they also discussed some useful tools to schedule posts.

Get This Book!

As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed reading APE. Guy Kawasaki writes books that are full of information and zero fluff. I know I sound like a fanboy and that’s because I am. This book really is that awesome.

I actually see people on Twitter all the time talking about how miserable they are trying to write or publish a book and I always point them to APE. It’s that good. Pick it up or ask for a review copy 😉

I Might Suck at Writing But I’ll Never Give It Up

There’s something about writing that feels like an art to me. Whether it’s in books, on the web or in a magazine, reading the work of a real pro always captivates me. I wish I could write like that.

Where My Writing Skills are Lacking

I think my biggest problems are in the technicalities of writing. I know I’m terrible at sentence structure and paying attention to the rules of writing. I took a few classes when I was in college for writing and I had the hardest time remembering all of the little details; even simple things like pronouns, adjectives and when to use commas. I even wonder if I was right to use the semi-colon in the previous sentence. Ha!

I’ve also noticed that sometimes my writing doesn’t sound very natural. I don’t know what to do about that. I don’t have a sophisticated vocabulary either, which I think sometimes limits my ability to write creatively. I don’t mean that I want to use large words, but I wish I could come up with more creative ways to say things.

The Realization That I Wasn’t a Talented Writer

I enjoyed writing in school and I had great grades in all of my English classes from elementary school all the way through college. I rarely had to make corrections on any my papers and my teachers would always compliment me on my papers, whether they were reports or creative works.

After finishing college and starting a career in internet marketing, I discovered blogging which is when I decided to create a blog for myself. About a year into writing on the blog, traffic finally started to increase which in turn also resulted in getting a lot more comments.

On a post that I worked really hard on, there was one comment specifically that I’ll never forget. The guy basically told me that he liked the information I provided in the article but that I was terrible writer and he hard a hard time just finishing the post.

I have to be honest, that really hurt.

After hearing this I immediately began to question myself. Why did my teachers in school tell me that I was a good writer when I really wasn’t? I thought that it may be due to the difference in formats. Writing papers in school was dry and technical while writing online seems to require more personality. Or maybe I just forgot how to write because I hadn’t been writing for a couple years. I really don’t know.

My writing was bad, but I kept at it every day because I knew that was key to getting better. I published a post on my blog every single weekday for about four years. (I don’t write on that blog nearly as much anymore, but I know I should.)

Why Writing is Important to Me

With the way internet marketing has changed over the years, more specifically the way Google praises high-quality content and penalizes low-quality content, upgrading my writing skills is becoming more and more important.

Creating content is becoming a necessary part of my job, but because of my low self-confidence in my writing skills, I prefer not to write for my clients. I’m ok with being judged on my writing skills when I write on my own sites, but I feel like I’m doing a disservice to my clients when I write for their sites. Because of the volume of content that I need produced for my clients, I will always need to hire a writer, but there are times when I wouldn’t mind writing an occasional article. I just don’t have the confidence.

Writing for my clients isn’t the only reason I want to become a better writer. I have quite a few hobbies and when I discover something new, I have a habit of creating a blog so that I can talk about something I really enjoy. I would say one of most important reasons for me wanting to be a better writer is because my biggest professional goal in life is to make a living from my own websites, whether it’s from affiliate marketing, advertising or eventually creating something and selling it, such as a training program or an ebook.

I want to be in charge of my success and I want the freedom of being able to work from anywhere and to be able to pick up and move if I wanted. But for any my sites to be as successful as I want them to be, I need to be able to create great content.

How Should I Move Forward?

I’ve actually considered going back to school for journalism with an emphasis on magazine-style writing, which I think is my favorite type of writing, but when I talk to friends who have gone to school for journalism, they always tell me that I would be better off taking a writing class instead of wasting my time and money on an all-out journalism degree program.

So I guess that leaves me with wondering what to do next. Would it be a waste of my time to go back to school? Or should I take just a few select college courses? Should I take some classes online? Or maybe I shouldn’t take any classes at all and just continue to write on my blogs and learn from writers online. I’ve always wanted to take classes from experienced online writers like the ones offered from Damn Fine Words or Copyblogger because that’s exactly the type of writing I want to do, but I can’t afford it.

I’ll Never Quit

Although I don’t feel good about my writing skills right now, when I compare my writing to my first year of blogging, I can see a huge improvement. I know I get better as the years go on, so the one certainty is that I’m going to continue writing and honing my skills for the rest of my life.

No matter how I decide to move forward, the one thing I’m sure about is that I love writing and it’s something I’m going to do whether anyone likes it or not. 😉