Building Great Content That Attracts Free Links
Building content to attract those free links
As we know, building links is an integral part of any successful website. It also wouldn't be the first time that I have recognized that it is time consuming and overall, pretty boring. For me, the energy kicks in when I see the reward, which is often difficult to appreciate when you're doing the leg work. That said, building links is one method to build popularity. Building content that wins the respect of your audience and attracts free links, is another. These gems that attract links have historically been known as Link Bait. This type of content is built upon the foundations of excellent research combined with the flair, talent and creativity of individuals.
To understand what makes people link to others, we have to understand the mindset of the audience we are reaching out to. What will they think of my website or web page? What am I giving that makes my page so interesting to attract these free links? Until we understand this, we are unlikely to make much of an impact.
The web was invented to help researchers link together related data and whilst things have moved on, it's still the fundamental principle behind the entity that we have become so accustomed to today. We have all had those spammy emails asking to exchange links, usually accompanied by a few lines telling us how important link building is. 9 times out of 10 those sites offer nothing unique, and certainly nothing that would benefit any sort of exchange. Again, you need to understand the mindset of your audience. Surely if you're sending an email to one of the authority sites they would know about the importance of link building. Some might consider such a poorly constructed invite to link as an insult to their intelligence.
People value creativity. Something that offers a unique perspective, has passion and personality and is clearly well researched. Become an authority on a topic and pride yourself on not only learning the topic inside out, but also sharing what you learn. This, in time, will be noticed and people will link to you. Of course you need to do the ground work and have the drive and passion first. Learning that you won't attract votes by doing what a thousand people have done before you is a good start.
Build credibility in your field
Credibility doesn't happen over night, it takes time. There is a huge difference between a person creating one quality article in a field and someone who has created hundreds. When people read up on a topic, they don't want to have to search through 20 articles to get the information they need. They would much rather get it in the one place. This need for information is where you can earn your greatest rewards.
It's human nature to trend towards people that are credible and respected in any particular field. These people have taken time to master their field, often treating each day as a learning curve in itself. Is it any surprise that more than often, these people tend to be one step ahead of the rest? Probably not. With the tools at our disposal today, there is more opportunity than ever before to build your online presence, whether it be social networking sites, blogging, forum participation, advertising or any of the many other tools that are at your disposal. Get involved, the Internet is one gigantic social network with thousands of ways to stick your neck above the parapet.
In building credibility you need to ensure you keep on the right side of the ethical line yourself.
- Keeping your work unhurried, original and fresh
- Offering something different - if you're going to create a guide, make it the best guide there is. This won't go unnoticed. To do this, you need to understand what's already out there and be willing to commit the time. Do your research, to the extent that you know that readers will appreciate the research undertaken.
- Don't cheat, steal or partake in any other methods that would be otherwise frowned upon. The minute you are labelled, it isn't something that you can shake easyily.
- Is your site the best that it can be? Will visitors remember it? Do you have a USP (unique selling point)?
- Are your ramblings going to interest readers or are you another knock off site, following the hundreds that have gone before you? Why you above the many others?
- Do others see you as giving something back to the community? I think we all know the type of people that won't link to other sites, adding NOFOLLOW tag to every link. Why? To preserve their page rank.. these people don't hit any real heights as ultimately Google loves the unselfish approach, not to mention the benefit in SEO by doing so.
These are key principles that will serve you well. Be a role model in your field and in return you will gain the respect of your peers. It is, however, a gradual process and takes time. Given the right determination and ethics, over time you will win the support of your colleagues and gain the recognition that follows.
I have always been passionate about the things i have done in life and this is held in high regard, whether in the work place or among friends, colleagues or people that follow your work. I have always found that this helps connect you with your audience (people who share your passion), which is key if you are to succeed.
Give unto others and you shall receive..
This is a key principle. The web functions due to the trillions of links that connect the many pages that make it up. What's more, the search engines love those links, so the selfish approach doesn't often get you very far. With your considerable knowledge on a particular subject, make sure you talk about other notable people, recognize their contributions and harness the spirit of what makes the internet so great. Linking to these people and the pages, giving credit where it's due and spreading the word about people or sites that deserve it often doesn't go unnoticed. This is particularly true of the individuals who know where their traffic comes from (which is a fair number).
It's often this unselfish approach that attracts the respect of your peers and tends to be the approach that attracts the greatest number of links.
A lifetime building - a second to bring the house down
This is an important concept and one every successful online guru must remember. It only takes one wrong move to tear your house down. Once web pages are posted, they stay there and any bad moves you make can have serious consequences on your business. History has seen this happen time and again and we should learn from others mistakes. The only links you are likely to get will be the various articles letting people know why not to do business with you! Not exactly the type of free links you're after..
I run a number of large websites and every day I make improvements to each of them. My view is that if I make a couple of enhancements every day to each, I will have made over 700 enhancements on each of them, over the space of a year. Whilst the one day at a time approach can seem slow going, looking back, it has been an approach which has seen my sites propelled up the rankings, to earning the traffic that follows. All these sites are now among the leaders in their field. It is also worth adding that all my sites post news regularly, which is more of a plus following the recent Panda update (to read what this is - see my guide in building links in which i cover this Panda update in more detail and also what it means for you).
When you write for any of your sites, or any of the other sites you contribute to, do your homework and try to make each article distinct and offer something that will be appreciated and admired. From a ranking standpoint, these articles will rank well in the Search Engines (by comparison to the 'lets get another page up' approach) - they will be recognized as quality articles by the Search Engines and your peers and over the space of each new month, you should start to see new links sprouting up from many other authority domains back to these articles. The result will be that these articles will begin to move up the rankings for the keywords you are targeting, which in turn will keep your traffic moving in the right direction, north.
Other Content related consideration
We have so far looked at the motivations of your audience, the essence behind community spirit (the unselfish approach) and building your credibility in any given field. Whilst these are all important, they are not the only things that you need to consider. Here are my top 10 'must do's' when it comes to creating great content to attract free 'appreciation links'.
1) Embrace your specialism - don't be tempted to try and be the master of all, as this only results in a broader understanding of each area. Stay specialized and focus on what you have know. Your expertise is what will build your credibility. Remember, people love authority websites and personnel, so this has to be your number one goal. To do this you need to be a fountain of knowledge, knowledge that you can share with your readers. This will set you apart from the countless other people in your field doing the very same thing.
2) Build 'how to' lists - these take time to put together however, are frequently considered authority documents. These types of guides attract attention, especially if you can blend in a little controversy, which is great for promoting discussion.
3) Ensure your content is truly 'King' - do your research and make sure you're delivering highly informative content. See what all your competitors are doing, their views and ideas to help set the benchmark. Now that you know the standard, raise the bar and deliver content that delivers above what your competitors are doing.
4) Keep up to date - this is particularly true if you consider yourself an expert in your field. Stay in the know about changes in your industry. Just as important, is keeping up to date with algorithm changes which may affect your rankings. This may require you to make tweaks to your content to stay on top.
5) Personalize your content - put your spin on an idea or concept. Just because other people have already written about it, doesn't mean that you can't too. Collect as much information as you can and then put your spin on it. After all, they're your thoughts and ideas. Put a face to your site. Let people know who you are.
6) Write about things that interest you - leave the dull topics for other people and stick to what excites you. These are the topics that will be the most rewarding to get your teeth into and this will likely come across in the final product.
7) A picture is worth 1000 words - when you're in the know, articles can sometimes come across a little preachy. Show your audience rather than telling them. Remember, visuals are considerably more effective than words alone. Important if you are trying to get a message across.
8) Stay to the point and keep an open mind - there are always certain things that we have our views about. It's important to make your point and not overstate things. Similarly, it's important to keep an open mind - be open to ideas. Remember, your ideas are your ideas. There will be many other view points. Invite discussion.
9) Social corner - remember that it doesn't have to be yourself that creates the great content for your site. Interact on a regular basis with your audience and welcome discussions. Run a competition, ask for guest bloggers... the list is long.
10) Make your headings and titles are clear - this is very important, not only from an SEO point of view but to ensure your title clearly describes what your article is about. See this short clip which i saw some time ago which i liked, especially the analogy regarding the librarian..
Short Clip on writing accurate titles
On top of these, remember the finishing touches - once you've created your article, make sure you proof read and spell check it. Maybe get a colleague or friend to give it a once over. Accept that you might need to make some alterations. Do this before publishing! Similarly, make sure you do all the on page optimization activities.
Other guides you might find interesting..
- Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid - Traffic killing moves
A guide looking at common mistakes made in the SEO world and how to avoid them.
- SEO tips - Top 10 ways to improve your Search Engine...
the top 10 best SEO tips to improve your search engine rankings.
- SEO - The Beginners Guide
A guide for new players in the SEO field. This guide sets out the first SEO steps you need to focus on.
Looking back over the last ten years or so, I've learned so much about the internet and about what works and what doesn't. Unfortunately there are many factors that change regularly. It's also important to remember that just because something works today, it might not tomorrow. In the SEO world, this is particularly true. One thing will always remain constant. Good quality authority content will always be seen as good quality content.
My thinking wasn't always in tune with this. In the early stages of my development, I believed that creating big sites with mediocre content put me in good stead. All that internal link power. I couldn't have been more wrong!! I paid the price on those sites and spent many years putting it right. Not a entire waste of time, I learned the lesson good, albeit the hard way. For me, writing well researched, quality content takes more time, however when you add in the time saved on the free links that you get when you do this, you'll see that you save time on the link building that you would need to do (if you got no free links in).
Your words on the page are what represents who you are, what your business is all about, so put everything into it and you will win support not only for your well researched authoritative articles, but for the person who you are striving to be. Remember, a company that puts little effort into it's content, likely puts the same focus on quality and customer service. Not an ideal candidate for free link juice.