I know, I know, it’s been like forever since I’ve posted over here. I won’t bore you with an explanation, we’ll save that for another day.
I do however keep the site active, and from time to time get various requests to guest post on this site. For the most part I ignore these, as I’m not familiar with the blogger, or I don’t have an interest in their content.
That changed when I received an email from Gareth Simpson, who had some very interesting topics he was pitching. After reading his piece, I just knew I wanted to share it here.
How To Rank Your Brand With Links In 2017
We all know that links help your website rank, but how can you build powerful links for your brand that have real impact beyond just a simple authority signal? What link building tactics should you be thinking about as you plan out your annual SEO strategy and budget? Here are some different long term strategies you can use to rank your brand in 2017.
Get the community behind your links
A great way to build successful links fast is to work with the people around you and get as many people as possible involved with your content. Why?
- People are more likely to link back to something if they’ve been included in it.
- Using your community for content will help you cut content production time, and create more user-focused content.
How to feature other people in your content for links
Build up a reputation as someone who is likely to share and promote other people’s content and businesses – it will make people more likely to link back to you. This isn’t just something that’s ‘nice’ to do – be really strategic on who you promote, and why – always look for mutual benefit and value. Some content formats that work well:
- Link roundups – hosting your own link roundup doesn’t take long, and it is a great way to encourage social shares, engagement and backlinks to your content. Hosting your own link roundup is also a great leverage for when you want to be included in someone else’s! If you’re aiming to be included in other people’s roundups – make sure your outreach emails are persuasive, yet concise. Use the power of social proof and always name drop someone you both know, or find common ground if you can.
- Interview features – conducting interviews with people allows you to build relationships, and people love to include interviews on their press or media pages. Interviews also often lead to reciprocal interview requests.
- The expert roundup – get influencers to comment on a specific topic by asking them to contribute a few lines to your blog in exchange for some online awareness. You could ask them to comment on a common business or personal challenge, or provide their insight on a very specific industry topic that’s got the town talking. Sometimes even just a tweet is enough to convey a message effectively so do your outreach via social media if it’s easier – just make sure you are concise, but persuasive. These people are busy – don’t waste their time.
Build a resource
Building a content resource can take some research and development time, but it’s a fantastic way to get more links back to your website. Whether it’s a calculator, a dynamic quiz, or detailed infographic – go for something very niche-specific that has lots of user value. You want something that people are going to find revelatory: something they want to bookmark right there and then.
- Here are some great content ideas and resources to get you started, but remember that originality works best. If you have to follow in someone else’s footsteps, go above and beyond what they did and make your resource bigger and better.
- Any resource you create will need to be properly marketed and presented in order for it to get good backlinks. Pay for PPC and social media advertising to help raise awareness. Targeted email and social campaigns also work well – look for industry resource pages or knowledge base sites who would benefit from linking to you.
Outreach your content or expertise
Link building is about putting yourself out there – don’t be shy. Shout about your great content and learn how to sell to editors and PR managers as well as potential customers. Here are some great guest posting resources to get you started.
- Getting in touch with websites in your industry to get a link back to one of your on-page resources is a great place to start for relevant, quality links. To sweeten the deal, offer them a guest post commenting on a recent industry trend, showing how people can tackle their own challenges. The key to success here is finding relevant sites and building relationships – spend lots of time identifying targets and writing great emails to maximize returns. Don’t just ask for a link – show how your resource and guest post is going to benefit their audience. A really powerful email and value proposition are super important.
- Try to clarify that you are not looking for paid advertisement, but hope to offer content of real value. Different websites have different rules about outbound content and sponsored content, so make sure you are careful with who you outreach to.
- Remember that before you can even start, you have to work hard on your on-site content offering – you have to impress people who are experts in your field. Don’t forget to revisit your entire site as a whole – a great resource can be let down if the rest of the domain is lacking.
Work with bloggers and influencers
Loads of bloggers work with brands and are open to promoting you if you’re offering something that is of value to their audience. Blogger and influencer partnerships can be really fruitful and powerful if managed in the right way, but you can also end up getting tangled in knots if you don’t play by the rules.
- Think of relevancy whenever you suggest a partnership with someone. Bloggers are very careful about their audiences and won’t want to ‘sell out’ and promote something they have no interest in.
- The best relationships offer value for both parties – make sure that you are clear on how you are going to work together and for how long. Spend time getting to know bloggers and learn what makes them ‘tick’ to get the most out of it.
- As well as hyperlinks, citations, brand mentions, and social shares are all part of the ‘noise’ that search engines pick up on when judging website authority – don’t just solely focus on links – include people’s networks of influence, and work with people who are going to organically grow your brand following.
Know your niche
One way in which brands go wrong with link building is reading huge SEO link building guides and then running off and trying to implement all the tactics at once by themselves (or with their agency).
- One of the best ways to get great links is to really focus on your niche and industry and create something of value and different that you just know people are going to link to. Really think about your industry in-depth when creating outstanding content.
- Use your knowledge of the industry to identify key influencers and players, predict trends, and be helpful – by being on the pulse you are much more likely to find link building avenues.
- Become the ‘go to’ person for specific niche problems and challenges – specialization is a great way to differentiate.
- Being creative and reacting to things with humor (comic strips, Twitter roundups etc.) can be just as effective as being informative and helpful online.
- Get busy commenting on relevant forums and blogs – these types of backlinks are great for building your credibility and authority as a brand.
One last word on links
Brands must be very careful with anchor texts and link volume – you don’t want to be hit by search engine penalties or hinder your rankings potential because of links that seem unnatural or manufactured. Don’t say yes to a link building method if you don’t really understand its consequences – seek advice, but don’t be tempted by easy wins and ‘link packages’ offered by some SEOs.
What do you think is stopping your brand’s website from ranking? Do you need more backlinks, or does your on-page need some help?
Gareth has worked as an SEO for almost a decade now and has recently started his own content agency whilst also freelancing as a technical SEO. His SEO specialisms are content and blogger outreach…and he likes green tea. You can follow him on Twitter @SimpsonGareth.