45 Link Building Tips, Tactics, and Strategies

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 Berify or TinEye

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

Best Practices for Syndicating Your Content

share

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

graveyard
* 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.

How to Add the Creative Commons Search Bar to Firefox 4

I use CreativeCommons.org all the time to find legal and free images for my articles, so I was extremely disappointed to find that CC Search was removed from the drop-down search bar in Firefox 4. And it’s also not listed in the Search Tools section as an Add-on.

I thought it was gone, but it turns out that if you go to Creative Commons labs, you can install the CC Search beta interface.

It doesn’t work the same as the old search bar, which previously went to a more user friendly interface (in my opinion), but it’s still handy. You can also revert to the old version by clicking the link in the top right corner of the page that says “Switch to tabbed search interface,” which you can see in the image below.

Review of Guy Kawasaki’s New Book, Enchantment

A couple of months ago (June 2013) I received an email from Guy Kawasaki asking if I had an interest in getting a free copy of his book Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions. He sent out the request to registered users of his Alltop.com website, an awesome website by the way. The book caters to business owners, which sounded interesting to me so I filled out the necessary information to have a copy shipped to my house.

A couple of months had already gone by and I never heard anything about it, so I thought I wasn’t chosen but then I saw an unexpected package in the mail. It was the book!

I immediately cracked it open to read the introduction. It pulled me in. I was already in the middle of another book at the time so I spent the next three hours finishing it up so that I could start on Enchantment. That’s how excited I was to read it. 😀

The basic premise of this book is to teach you how to ‘enchant’ your customers, employees and business partners.

Guy Kawasaki gets a lot of his inspiration from Apple, which is a company he worked for when they first started. He saw how they enchanted their customers and applied it to his own business endeavors.

I read Enchantment every night before bed and finished it in about a week. I learned a lot.

Guy mentions a lot of behavioral studies throughout the book, mostly about being persuasive. A lot of those studies come from “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive” by Robert B. Cialdini, another great book that I recommend reading.

One study, for example is that by providing social proof that people are embracing your cause or like the products you’re selling, you are likely to convince them of embracing it as well.

Another study shows that you should always speak positive. For example, instead of saying “25 million people every year die from smoking,” say something like “more than 2 billion people every year choose not to smoke.” Saying that message in a negative way could be telling your listeners, “25 million people smoke, so why shouldn’t you.”

Enchantment isn’t about using persuasive techniques to trick people into accepting you and your business. It’s about being genuinely likable.

Here are some other great examples from the book that I really liked. (these are notes I took down while reading. Not direct quotes)

– An authentic smile is one that’s so big that you have crows feet on your eyes. People can tell when you don’t mean it. Think of something that makes you happy. And if you don’t smile, you might come off as grumpy and people don’t like to do business with grumpy people.

– When meeting someone, dress as equals. Overdressing can show the other person that you think you’re richer or better than they are. On the other hand, underdressing shows that you don’t care. That you don’t respect them.

– A lot of people prefer contact through email and phone, but to build a strong relationship, physical contact is important. It lets you interact with others more and can turn an acquaintance into a friend. Digital interaction is good for maintaining a relationship once it’s already in place.

– If you want to be enchanting, it’s important that you are truly passionate about your business. (This one made me immediately think of affiliate marketing and how a lot of people go after big money niches they have no interest in.)

– If your employees aren’t enchanted, they won’t enchant your customers.

There was a whole chapter dedicated to enchanting your employees, which he followed up with a chapter on how to enchant your boss. Guy suggests that if your boss wants you to do something, you should drop whatever it is you’re doing and do it, no matter how unimportant you think it is. He also mentioned how this is a great strategy for husbands.

“If your wife asks you to do something, drop everything and do it. You may not think it’s important, but you aren’t juggling four kids, a career, and several charitable causes. You may think you see the “big picture,” but you don’t see her big picture.”

That’s some awesome advice.

At the end of each chapter, Guy also included inspiring stories from real people that relate to what that chapter was about. It was a great way to wrap up each section.

One of the reasons I really liked Enchantment is because everything Guy talks about are things that I feel are important in my own life. He talks about the importance of fulfilling promises, acting with honesty and focusing on actions that make the world a better place.

All of this got me thinking about the companies that have enchanted me.

  • WordPress
  • Apple (yes, I’m a Mac user too!)
  • Sony
  • BSN Supplements
  • Trek Bikes
  • SEOMoz

These are all great companies for a reason. I’m going to think about why they enchant me and use it for my own sites and with my clients.

As I read this book, I kept coming across things that I wanted to include in my own life. I’m actually going to read it again, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Enchantment was just released today, so I definitely recommend buying it.

P.S. – Writing a review was not required to receive a free copy of the book, but I liked it so much that I really wanted to share my thoughts. 😉

How You Can Get Your Hands on a Chrome Notebook

Google Chrome Logo

Google just announced their new Google Chrome OS earlier today and from what I’ve seen so far, this is going to be totally awesome. An all online-only notebook is sweet because it’s going to make setup and computer maintenance so much easier. I have a feeling it’s going to feel a bit limited at first, but I’m positive that I can get used to it and will make it work.

And much to the delight of many Google nerds and tech geeks everywhere, they also announced that they’d be giving away Chrome notebooks to a select few people for testing purposes. They are searching for users in all areas; business, education, non-profit, developers and individuals. All you have to do is fill out their application form.

They also ask that you submit a video about why you want to test the Chrome OS, but that’s optional. It’s a goal of mine to become more comfortable with speaking to the camera and sharing my thoughts visually so I thought this was a great opportunity to get started.

This is why I want to test the Chrome OS. I hope they choose me to test. Fingers crossed!

P.S. I’m on an exercise ball so I’m a little fidgety in this video. I’ll keep that in mind next time.

How to Compare Two Lists in Excel

Knowing how to compare data from two different columns in Excel using the VLOOKUP feature is something that can be super useful for internet marketers or anyone who deals with data regularly. The other day I did some competitive research to gather backlink data from various websites, many of which had backlinks from sites I’ve contacted in the past. I wanted to make sure not to contact these sites again, so I needed to weed out the URL’s that matched in both lists.

I’m on a Macbook and using VBA code isn’t available in Excel for Mac, so I had to find a formula, which I did after a long search. Start by putting the longest list in Column A and the shorter list in Column B. In Column C enter =VLOOKUP(A1,B:B,1,FALSE) and copy the formula down to the last cell where data ends in Column A.

A1 = The cell being compared
B:B = The set of data Column A cells are being compared to
1 = Tells the formula to return a result from of data matches
FALSE = Tells the formula to return an exact match

Tip: If you’re using this to compare deep URLs but need to compare to domains, use Ontolo’s URL & Hostname Counter, set to Count Hostnames and click the button. Copy to Clipboard and paste into Excel.

Why I Won’t Buy an iPad

I can’t think if any actual reasons how an iPad could be any more useful than my laptop for work or business. I don’t know anyone who owns one and I’ve only spent about 10 minutes playing with an iPad at the local Best Buy so I admit that I don’t have a lot of experience with how it works.

From what I understand, it’s basically like an iPod Touch or an iPhone (which I do own). I’ve heard that it will (or already does?) have business software created specifically for it, such as a word processor and spreadsheet program much like Microsoft Office. While that makes it sound a little more useful, I don’t see why I would rather take that on a business trip or to a client meeting when I have a fully-featured laptop that has everything I need.

For pleasure on the other hand, I think an iPad would be great. If I wanted to read a book in bed or browse the internet on the couch, an iPad would super-simple and easy to use.

One of the biggest problems I have is that it doesn’t support Flash and since I would use the iPad mostly for web browsing, this really bothers me. I understand that Flash is a dying technology and is practically useless on mobile devices, but I thought of the iPad as more than just a large iPhone and I had really hoped Apple would have included Flash capabilities more like a desktop computer.

This isn’t to say that I would never OWN an iPad though. I’m just saying I would never BUY one. At least not for the price it’s selling for right now. For $200 more than the selling price of an iPad, I can go buy a brand new fully-featured Macbook.

This is why I’m hoping to win one instead 😀 I’ll enter a few contests here and there as I see them on Twitter, such as this one from hiTechPedia.com. I never win any contests, but you never know how things might turn out.

If I win, I might have a complete change of heart about the iPad and may even be able to provide some real reasons on why anyone should buy one. Here’s hoping 😉

*image Courtesy of Apple

Is SEO Necessary For New Business Owners Anymore?

I came across a forum post on DMOZ quite some time ago with a new business owner asking if SEO is necessary anymore. Why this person was asking for this type of advice from DMOZ, I have no idea, but one of the forum moderators chimed in stating that SEO was not necessary. He said that hard quality work is all it takes and that utilizing meta tags is pointless. This is all the “advice” he provided. There really is a lot more to SEO than meta tags.

I do agree that doing hard quality work is very important and is what really counts when building your website, but although meta tags are an extremely small part of SEO, they can still provide value.

When it comes to ranking, these fields are generally useless, which the Google guidelines will tell you, and although Google is the most well known search engine currently, they aren’t the only one available to use, and many other search engines don’t go by the same rules.

If you place the appropriate keywords in the meta keywords tag, it can help a site stay away from a duplicate content filter. This tag can normally be avoided, but it’s a nice fallback, just in case. And as previously mentioned, some search engines may still be using it. Heck, it only takes a couple of seconds to fill in anyway. One thing to note though is that if you utilized the keywords meta tag, you leave your research open for competitors to find.

The description meta tag will not help in rankings, but with the right description, you can entice visitors into coming into your website. Also, if you’ve ever noticed from doing a search in Google, your search query will appear in bold in the description. This is proven to draw the eyes of the user into that listing. I think that makes the Description Meta tag fairly important.

Ok, so those are my thoughts on meta tags, but there is much more to SEO than that.

Keyword Research

  • High Volume
  • Low Competition
  • “Buyer” keywords

On-Page Factors

  • Title tags
  • Meta tags
  • Alt attributes
  • Internal linking
  • Header tags
  • Keyword emphasis (bolding/italicizing)
  • Page load time optimization
  • Broken links
  • HTML and XML sitemap
  • Custom 404
  • Robots.txt
  • Canonical Issues
  • Site architecture analysis

Competitive Analysis

  • Domain age
  • On-page factors
  • Visibility
  • Traffic
  • Incoming links
  • Paid search campaigns

Off-Page Factors

  • Analytics review
  • Incoming backlinks
  • Citations
  • Local optimization

A lot of this may not fit into some peoples definition of “SEO” but would instead call it “SEM” or search engine marketing, but the inexperienced don’t really care about semantics and only want their site to bring in more money. This is why I lumped it all together into the somewhat outdated term.

To answer the original question of the new business owner, no, search engine optimization isn’t absolutely necessary, but if you ever plan to have a successful online business that brings in enough money to put food on the table, then yes it is.

Google Halloween 2009 Logos

Did you check out the cool Halloween logo Google put up this year? It seems simple at first, but if you click on it, you’ll get some fun results.

Google Halloween Logo 1

Ooohhh, more candy!

Google Halloween Logo 2

Even more candy?!?!!

Google Halloween Logo 3

Awwwww, candy all gone…

Google Halloween Logo 4

…and there’s your Halloween 2009 search results.

Google Halloween Logo 5

And if you check out their robots.txt file at http://www.google.com/robots.txt, they’ve added a funny little Halloween themed rule.

Google Halloween 2009 robots.txt