Reading around the Web I can’t help but notice similarities between what is being written about link building and the principles highlighted in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Covey’s work suggests people can be successful in business and life when they’re effective at doing things that bring about desired results. He wrote the book long before the Internet became part of our daily routine, but the principles are timeless and certainly apply to people searching for links.
Most people are familiar with and use link building tactics such as “directory submissions,” “link bait” and “guest blogging”. All three are still good ways to secure basic links but consider turbocharging your tactics by adding these seven linking building “habits”:
1. Create An Early Warning System By Finding and Listening To Key Influencers On Twitter
Often, news and opinions breaks on Twitter before anywhere else by people close to the situation, the media and key influencers monitor this social channel as a result. If you write a post offering a differing viewpoint and tweet your post to those involved, you stand a great chance of attracting links and clicks to your content as well as attracting new Twitter followers!
Tools to monitor Twitter:
- Monitter Simple but awesome.
- Twinitor (Check out the search operators under advanced search, very helpful)
2. Set Yourself Up For Success
Getting people to link to you is hard work and doesn’t always happen overnight. Henry Ford once said “nothing is hard if you divide it into small jobs.” Obviously he wasn’t thinking about the tedious task of link building but he did know a thing or two about the assembly process so it’s sage advice.
Tools to help organize your linking campaigns
- Buzzstream – Free and paid service to help you find link opportunities and automate tasks.
- MeeTimer – Monitors your online time and where you spend it. If you suffer from oooolookitdat syndrome like I do, this tool is a must.
- Wipee List – App that lets you list and prioritize what you need to do.
3. Leverage Cross-Channel Marketing
This may be an old buzzword but it’s no passing fad. Do the intuitively obvious and take full advantage of opportunities to cross-promote through all of your channels, even those offline. Add a “link to us” or “visit our content library” tag in all:
- Confirmation emails
- Your catalog
- Live chat box
—> Before going on to #4, click here to help set the mood <—
4. Channel Gawker and Mayberry RFD
Studies have shown positive content tends to go viral and attracts more links than content written from a negative point of view. This makes sense, people love to share information that’s upbeat or informative because it makes them look upbeat and informative.
But people also love to share dirt and pass around sensational stories. Glance at any newspaper’s “most emailed ” list and you’ll find the angst filled, controversial articles are passed more often than helpful how-to’s. Knowing this and wanting to capitalize on the viral attention “negative” content can attract, should you join the fray and create it?
Most people would probably answer with “it depends on your industry” but I’ll go for it and say “YES!” by all means, develop edgy content now and again. But keep in mind how you say something goes much further than what you say, people remember the way you made them feel more than your actual words.
Here is a great example of how to use a controversial subject for positive outcomes.
Recently, PushFire CEO Rae Hoffman-Dolan blogged about an issue she feels strongly about, she was motivated to write the post after I tweeted a news article she didn’t agree with. Truth be known I only tweeted the article to get a rise out of a mutual friend (@graywolf) but Rae decided to use my tweet to create content and voice her opinion on a controversial subject she feels passionately about.
This type of writing is not easy especially when friends are involved, but Rae nailed it. Her article was smart, well-written and offered a different perspective on a subject many people are touchy about . Did she use my tweet to create a blog post and make her point? Yes but without being harsh or argumentative. I may not agree with her opinions but I do respect the fact she took the opportunity to share her thoughts and create a piece of content that scored 271 tweets and 146 comments last time I looked.
Good content is good content because the writer makes it so, not because the topic is upbeat or safe. If all you do is write “how-to” and “top ten” articles you may fall into predictable and boring patterns. Bored people change the channel, can you afford to lose visitors because you’re creating more of the same? It’s OK to step outside your comfort zone now and then, think about changing things up and writing about more controversial matters. You may attract new people and links to your content and gain a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t .
5. Don’t Waste Good
Beer Diet Coke Content
I originally wrote this post in 2007 and decided to reuse it because the subject was still relevant, I like the title and well, just because. If you have a lot of old content consider reaching back into your archives and see what you can update and relaunch.
Go back several years, not months and rewrite to update links and concepts. If a post received a lot of tweets or shares, the topic must have been good, think about reusing it and write something fresh.
Another idea for old articles? Use the old content to write a comparison piece. For example if you wrote a post in 2009 and talked about the price of new homes, use the old information to write a new article comparing prices today.
Third idea: Try using a tool like Social Crawlytics to identify what’s gone hot for your competitors and emulate. DON’T USE OR COPY THEIR CONTENT, stealing content is for losers.
Tools to find the most shared content on your blog:
- Social Metrics Pro (paid plugin) Tracks tweets, likes, pins and G+
- Social Crawlytics (free) Provides stats on most shared content for a competitor.
- Social Sharing Analytics (free) Drop in the RSS URL for any site and the tool will tell you how many tweets, likes and G+ the post received.
6. Incorporate Current Events And Trends In Your Content
In addition to doing reviews, I think developing content using current events is one of the best ways to attract links and traffic to a website. When you use terminology or a name from a current event you stand a very good chance of being picked up by an alert service which all the media companies run. If the post is a good one, chances are you’ll be visited and linked to, at the very least you’ll get a comment out of someone and traffic to the site. Either way it’s a win-win situation.
Here are a handful of sites and tools that monitor breaking trends and hot topics:
- YouTube Trends – Not all content is written, if you’re looking for video creation ideas check out YouTube’s tool.
- News outlets – All of them have trend reports, here’s one for CNN. Search on the name of the news site + trends.
- AllTop is one of my favorite trend watching sites, they list just about every type of blog imaginable and their latest posts.
- Topsy. Hands down my favorite site since Topix has gone to crap. Check out the Links option on the search bar, it brings back recent pages using your keywords in the Title from a variety of well known blogs.
- TrendingTopics – watches trending topics on Wikipedia
- For fun: If you need music to work and want something different, Viral Video Chart offers popular music videos.
7. Do The Grunt Work
Researching a competitors back links is a popular tactic in link building, the idea is to identify all the web pages hosting your competitors links and then go and try to get the same links. The idea is sound but I maintain may have as much luck mining the ten results behind you.
Why? Because the webmaster behind you is working hard to move forward and could be doing things you’re not. Keep your eyes on the sites ranking ahead and behind you and use the best of both worlds.