What do you want from SEO? If I had to guess, I’d say “more traffic” or “more leads” are at the top of your goals list. The problem is, those things don’t just happen on their own.
One way to accomplish these goals is to pursue link building by creating amazing content. Links are one of the most important signals Google uses to rank websites. They act as endorsements and help Google understand how sites are related and which pages offer the best information on any particular topic.
Below, I’ll provide a guide to help you better understand link building, learn from the success of other sites, and create content that people want to link to from their sites. Using this strategy, not only will you be creating quality content, but the links earned will translate into more targeted traffic within your industry or niche.
Understand Why People Link to Others’ Content
Sites don’t link to other sites; people link to other people. When beginning a link building campaign, this is the most important thing to keep in mind. Because if you pick the wrong person to reach out to, you’re only wasting your time.
You can’t just expect any and all sites in your niche to link to your content just because they’re a little similar. Each site is unique, with a unique writing/editing staff and their idea of great content might not be the same as yours.
Even if your content isn’t a fit for every site, it doesn’t mean that it’s not high quality or that your content is awful. It just means you have to adjust your work and expectations depending on the person you’re targeting.
But how do you do that? How do you know which person or site is a fit?
Research! You have to get your hands dirty in order to succeed with link building. Blindly contacting site after site may get you some results, but the best results come from taking your time and executing based on the information you acquire.
This is accomplished by getting to know the people who manage, edit, or write for a specific site. If it’s an individually-owned blog or site, there’s less research involved in understanding what kind of content they like; you just have to browse the site. But in the case of larger sites that have editors and various writers, knowing who likes what gives you a huge advantage.
For example, if you’re trying to get the word out about your new business, you’ll want to target the editor/writer who is directly in charge of content about new business or whose writing history reflects that interest.
You can then customize your email to show that you’re contacting them for a specific reason. This is important because people hate being contacted in an impersonal way, especially when a request is involved. It doesn’t matter how amazing your site or content is, unless you’re able to win over the person on the other end of your email message.
Ultimately, the reason people link to your content is because they find it interesting, it’s a fit for their site, and you reached out to them as a person instead of a website. Keep this in mind as you begin your next link building campaign and you’ll see better results in less time.
Research and Learn from the Success of Others
The great thing about link building is that it’s very easy to research and learn from the success of other sites. Using tools like SEMRush and Moz Pro, you can determine where a site’s links came from and which pieces of content achieved the most links.
This information will give you an idea of the type of content certain sites like to see, allowing you to create your own link building roadmap. To help you on this journey, here’s a step-by-step guide to analyzing a site’s content and links:
- Use Moz Pro (Subscription Required) – To begin, you’ll need a subscription to Moz Pro, a $99/month service. A free 30-day trial is available for new users, so take advantage of that if you’d like to test the service with this exercise.
- Open OSE and Enter Your Target Site – OSE (Open Site Explorer) is a Moz Pro tool that allows you to retrieve inbound link data from any site on the web. It even includes information that grades sites (0-100) based on how they’d rank on search engines; this is called Domain Authority. To start, enter your target site in the URL field at the top of the page.
- Click “Top Pages” on the Left Side of Page – This will generate a list of your target site’s top pages based on Page Authority, the grade given to an individual page. To go in-depth with this data, you can download a CSV file, but for this example let’s just take one of the top pages (ignoring the homepage).
- Enter the Page URL into the URL Field and Click Back to Inbound Links – Instead of analyzing the inbound links of the entire site, you’ll now only get a list of the top pages from the chosen page. Now we can see which sites are linking to it in order to better understand the context.
- Analyze the Content and its Inbound Links – Now that you’ve got an example page, open it up and read through it. Once you’ve down that, go back and click through to some of the high-DA sites linking to that page. Why is that site linking to that page? What value does it add? Answer these questions and you can emulate that on your own site in order to create great content that attracts links.
Use the Skyscraper Technique to Create the BEST Content
Conceptualized by Brian Dean of Backlinko, the Skyscraper Techinique is the idea of taking content that’s proven to attract links and building upon it. That means updating it with current information, digging deeper into the topic, creating a better page design, using more/higher-quality images, and anything else you can think of to one-up the original piece of content.
Once you’ve got all of this planned out, the only thing left to do is execute. There’s no secret sauce to creating amazing content; you simply have to understand the process, create a plan, and take action.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You are your own worst enemy.” This is especially true when creating content. Because while you are competing with other sites to create the best content, the only person stopping you from doing it is yourself.
Keep this in mind the next time you complain about not being about to create better content than a competitor!