007 A 12-Minute Crash Course on Link Building (Ugh)

The number one SEO practice you can employ to get people (and Google) to pay attention to your online content.

Links have become the online content creator’s currency. Get a lot of links, and you get “wealthy”. And the more quality links that point to a particular page, the higher that page is going to rank.

But how do you get those links without breaking the law, or looking like a scuzzy spammer? Well, here are some clean and pretty ways to get them.

In addition, in this roughly 12-minute episode you’ll also discover:

  • The first search engine to capitalize on links as a ranking factor
  • Why you want high-quality links pointing to your pages
  • The most popular ways to attract links
  • How you can easily outrank a page with 100 links pointing to it
  • The site-destroying danger of link lust
  • The power a state government link gives you (and a simple way to get it)
  • How to repurpose content to attract links
  • Demian’s true feelings about the phrase “link building”

[episode no=”7″]

The Show Notes

A 12-Minute Crash Course on Link Building

Demian Farnworth Hi, welcome to Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I’m your host, Demian Farnworth, Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media. And thank you for sharing the next four minutes or so of your life with me.

Now this is episode 7 and I’m calling it “A Crash Course on Link Building — ugh.”

Rough Draft is brought to you by Authority Rainmaker, a carefully designed live educational experience that presents a complete and effective online marketing strategy to help you immediately accelerate your business.

We are hosting in May of this year, May 13–15, in beautiful Denver, Colorado at the stunning Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

The lineup of speakers is equally as stunning. We’ve got author Dan Pink, punk legend Henry Rollins, fascination aficionado Sally Hogshead, the omnipresent Chris Brogan, Sean d’Souza, Pamela Wilson, our very own Brian Clark, Sonia Simone, and Jerod Morris and, so on.

And not to forget the secret sauce of it all: building real-world relationships with other attendees. Get all the details right now at rainmaker.fm/event, and we look forward to seeing you in Denver, Colorado this May. That’s rainmaker.fm/event.

The First Search Engine to Capitalize on Links as a Ranking Factor

A few episodes back I mentioned that search engines like Google use links to evaluate the content on a page. A link to a page is like a vote. Since the early 90s this has been happening. Google was simply the first search engine to capitalize on links and make them a major factor in ranking.

But let me be clear. It is not the only factor. There are some 200 factors — Google’s words not mine — but what exactly those factors are remains somewhat of a mystery. It is perhaps the most important off-page factor when it comes to getting found in the search engines.

Why You Want High-Quality Links Pointing to Your Pages

So, links become the online content creators currency. Get a lot of links, and you are wealthy. The more quality links that point to a particular page the higher it is going to rank.

The Most Popular Ways to Attract Links

How do you get those links? Like I mentioned before — you create high-quality content. Now there are some quick and dirty ways to get links.

  1. Infographics – perhaps one of the most popular forms of link bait, infographics turn complex data into meaningful stories using graphics.
  2. Egobait – the concept behind this form of link bait is simple … appeal to someone’s ego. Think Ad Age’s Power 150.
  3. Interviews – doing interviews with other bloggers and you’re going to get links, traffic and a growing audience.
  4. Drawings – a good drawing can go viral and attract links and traffic to your site. Hugh MacLeod and FAKE GRIMLOCK are good examples.
  5. Videos – Jib Jab’s Elf Yourself or Airbnb’s “Wall and Chain” short film.
  6. Quizzes – Buzzfeed’s quizzes. What kind of disco hairstyle are you?
  7. Stories – If all else fails, then you can simply fall back on an old-time favorite … the story.

Google’s PageRank algorithm attempts to judge the relevancy of a page by asking two questions:

How many links point to a particular web page?
How valuable are those links?

In practice, the theory is this: when you have two identical pages on training for a marathon, the one with the most links pointing to that page should rank higher in the search engines.

However, the quality of those links matters a lot.

How You Can Easily Outrank a Page with 100 Links Pointing to it

If both pages have ten links pointing to them, but one of the pages has links coming from Runner’s World and the official Ironman Triathlon, that page is going to be deemed more authoritative than the other.

In addition, a page with ten high-quality links could potentially outrank a page with 100 low-quality links.

In other words, PageRank rewarded keyword-rich content that attracted high quality incoming links.

On these sites, content is original, useful, and ultra-specific. Content is epic. So what made the links coming to these sites different from those who were punished?

The Power a State Government Link Gives You (and a Simple Way to Get it)

Quality of links matters.

  • Join the Better Business Bureau. They’ll link to you once you are a member.
  • Join the local chamber of commerce who will likely link to you once you are a member.
  • Get your city and the state governments you live in you to link to you by submitting to the relevant sites.
  • Get your library to link to you.
  • Get business partners and non-competing business to link to you.
  • Launch an affiliate program.

Do testimonials for other people and businesses and they will link back to you.

Interview big bloggers. Once you publish the interview, they’ll link back to you.

You could run a contest.

How to Repurpose Content to Attract Links

Repurpose your content. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Turn a dozen or so posts into a PDF that you can then publish on a landing page that will then help you rank for the topic.
  • Turn a series of posts into a slide share document.
  • Submit your best posts for syndication to larger publishers. They’ll link back to the original.
  • Create a video of a series of posts and then upload to the top video sites like Vimeo and YouTube.

Some of these links will add value to your site either as that vote of confidence or actually sending traffic from those sites. One of the best ways to get links and build relationships and broaden your audience is to guest post.

Of course on your own sites you create link-worthy … but there is a danger we need to talk about. Because there is this mindset that says lots of links and tweets and Facebook posts and on and on … otherwise going for that viral headline.

We love viral headlines. However. There is a problem. And we will discuss that in the next episode.

But before I let you go I remind you to please jump over to iTunes and give this show a rating, a review, leave a comment. It would mean a lot to me. So please jump over to iTunes when you get a chance … thank you so much, and look forward to talking to you in the next episode of Rough Draft.