The traditional methods of building links are no longer effective. Old-fashioned strategies, like posting links randomly on external sites in batches, can now be easily identified as a trick designed to artificially increase your rank, and will be penalized accordingly by Google. Thanks to ongoing revisions and modifications of the Penguin Update, the search engine is becoming even more advanced and able to detect even smaller offenses.
If implemented carefully, it is possible to build links effectively on external sites by targeting highly relevant and highly authoritative sources. However, it’s far more effective and safer to naturally attract external links by creating and syndicating viral content. Creating these pieces of content takes a lot of work and dedication, but every successful piece should merit the construction of hundreds to thousands of external links.
In order to attract the highest authority links possible, you’ll have to take extra efforts when creating your content.
It should go without saying at this point, but your content absolutely needs to be original. If your work is merely an extension or a rehashing of material that’s already in circulation, it’s not going to earn any links from reputable sources. After all, if you’ve gotten information from a separate source, why wouldn’t the reputable resource in question simply bypass you and link to that original source directly? If you want the best chance at getting noticed and getting links, conduct some original research. It doesn’t have to be a big-budget effort, but it should cover a subject that no one’s done before, or at least make some new data available.
For a while, written articles were the best way to circulate content quickly. Then, customized infographics were the undisputed kings of viral content. Today, both have fallen slightly out of practice but are still valuable opportunities given the right circumstances. Throughout the course of your backlink building efforts, try using multiple different mediums—the more varied you are, the more types of resources will be interested in your work. For example, you could run with a whitepaper the first time you syndicate your material, then switch to a large-scale infographic in round two, and follow up with an interactive video the next time you make a push.
Similar to the way you’ll diversify the mediums you use to produce your content, you’ll need to diversify the channels you use to syndicate that content. Your first line of syndication should be your brand’s social media channels, and you should use as many different channels as you can effectively manage. Every platform will have a unique audience with unique tastes, so publishing on multiple platforms will give you the widest reach. Also get involved on other content submission platforms outside the realm of social media; blogs and forums are perfect opportunities for this, as well as social bookmarking sites like Reddit or StumbleUpon.
With most content marketing and social media applications, the more content and information you push out, the better. With links, it’s true that the more you have, the better you’ll fare, but you’ll actually earn more links with fewer pieces of content if the quality of your content is higher. For example, if you spend as much time on one piece of high-quality content as you do on four pieces of decent content, your high-quality piece will likely attract more links than your other four pieces combined. Make an effort to emphasize quality over quantity here.
Local media outlets are some of the best places to look for publishing opportunities. Local news sites, local universities, and local government pages will all carry high authority and will be much more likely to publish your work than an equivalent national organization. Anything with a .gov or .edu extension in the URL will host some of the highest authority you can get on the Internet; just be sure to position yourself as an influencer in your community, and use that in the context of your content whenever possible. For example, you could conduct your research using a survey of the local population, or submit a news story about a local event your company attended.
Press releases are gateways to high-authority links, as long as you remember the quality-over-quantity rule. Press release submission services like PR Newswire are fantastic and relatively inexpensive, but you’re only going to get published by major outlets if your stories are truly newsworthy. Don’t just pop out a press release every time your company takes an action; instead, wait for a prime opportunity, write an extensively detailed news release, and push it to as many outlets as you possibly can. This is also a great alternative if you find yourself unable to execute original research.
After releasing your first few pieces of content, you’ll start to get a feel for the rhythm of the creation process. Learn from your mistakes and look critically at the factors that were responsible for your early successes. As you grow to become more of an authority in your industry, you’ll find it even easier to get your content to catch on and start circulating. On the other hand, if you find yourself struggling early on, it might be worth exploring new options in your content creation process—that is to say, rethink your content strategy entirely from the ground up.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.