Using Great Content to Build Links

Publishing amazing content as an SEO strategy has been preached over and over again, yet marketers following this strategy often overlook that you need more than amazing content to actually rank well in a competitive niche. Let’s face it, in most cases, content absent of links is still going to have trouble ranking.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not going to tell you content marketing doesn’t work (why else would I be writing right now?). You need a mix of both, but must abandon the “if you build it, they will come” strategy. After all, the Field of Dreams approach relies on content that is so good that it earns the links/rankings naturally through visibility on social media, word of mouth, email, press and public relations – which does work for some, but not the vast majority.

To put the power back in your hands, I’ve outlined a simple strategy that can help get your content the love it deserves without relying solely on serendipity.

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Image Optimization and Alt Text Best Practices

Image search can generate a ton of traffic. Not all that traffic is going to be worthwhile, but in many niches you can find ways of turning that into leads, subscribers or, if nothing else, a sweet link opportunity.

However, to generate that traffic to your images, you need to understand alt text.

The purpose of alt text is to provide an alternative description for an image, specifically so that a search bot can better understand what the image is and context behind it. Additionally, alt text is a user-experience booster, providing users that can’t see, or choose not to view images within their browser, an idea of what should be in its place.

Think of it from the standpoint of a visually impaired reader. Those with visual impairments use screen readers, which are unable to portray images, but will allow the user to read the title, alt text and captions – if they are provided.

With image search providing additional means of funneling traffic to your site – all with minimal time commitment – it would be silly not to optimize your images. Below are some alt text best practices to start winning more traffic.

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Quality Link Building Strategies with Example Pitches

Link building can be one of the most challenging parts of an SEO’s job; however, for me, it’s often one of the most rewarding. Not only is it fun getting that win, but link signals are weighted heavily enough in the algorithm that you can almost get an immediate tell after building an awesome link.

Additionally, link building provides a great opportunity to bring out the creative side – which is why it is important to stress that any tactics below are meant to be examples, providing a starting point or refresher for those reading. I’d implore you to use your own creativity and add some of your own spin to them. After all, using cookie-cutter or “scalable” link building methods is what gets sites into the most trouble.

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On-Page SEO – A Foundation for Success

In most cases, the first thing I do when checking into a new site, client or even competitor, I check to see what their on-page optimization looks like. This can be where you can establish some immediate quick-wins and begin to create value.

However, when it comes to on-page SEO, everyone has had enough hearing about how content is all you need, or the proper meta tags or even keyword density for that matter.

So, if you’re looking for some practical strategies that you can use on your site today, then keep reading.
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Rel=”Author” May be Gone, But Agent Rank Lives On

When I first wrote the post below, studies on authorship and its influence on CTR were mainstream; Eric Schmidt unveiled his ideas on author profiles and how he believed they would affect future rankings; and Panda made its third appearance in 45 days, adding more reason for marketers to jump on the content bandwagon.

With this whirlwind of activity, and the glittery photos in results, it was hard not to promote authorship and think that this was the answer to past patents referring Agent Rank; however, the photos were not the point behind Agent Rank. And, at this point, even though rel=author is longer a thing, the idea that Google would alter rankings based on an author’s authority is still alive and believe that Google is in the process of finding a more efficient way of gathering Agent Rank signals – possibly from the knowledge graph, knowledge vault and structured data.

On a side note, I would also doubt the recent theories that Google enacted rel=author as a means of mass link building – but wouldn’t be opposed to them considering a rel=author or rel=me link nofollow.

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SEO Skills You Need if You Want to Level Up in the Industry

In recent years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to run the entire SEO team for a 1400+ employee company that is rooted in search marketing and entrepreneurship. With this being the case, it’s also left me continually thinking about the attributes and qualities of the leaders around me that have made them so successful – a few who have been in the digital marketing industry since before 1997.

More importantly, I’ve repeatedly considered not just the qualities, but what it takes to obtain that skill and “level up” in a notoriously competitive industry.
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Prospecting for Links Like a Pro

Guest blogging, while becoming overplayed, is still a great way to build relevant links from authority websites within a niche. Every site, from the one-man show to the enterprise level news blog, is in need of content, and many will jump on the opportunity to add content to their site, as long as it is unique, thought-provoking or relevant to their readers.

Although finding and identifying link opportunities – while matching unique, thoughtful topics to go with each guest post prospect – isn’t the most difficult part of link building, it is one of the most time-consuming.

In this post, I’ll be going over the surprisingly simple to the mind-blowing gems of discovering new link opportunities.
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Getting Out of the Guest Blogging Bubble

Guest blogging is the most widely known tactic to legitimately build links from authority websites; however, while guest posting has its benefits, it also has its negative connotations.

As inbound marketers, we need to not just get ahead of the curve, but stay ahead. What I mean is that smart – or scared – webmasters will soon quit accepting low-value works, yielding to columnists over one and done hits.

Take State of Search for example. To preserve quality, Bas van den Beld has eliminated guest post requests in general, opting only for guest posts from people that they approach, and not the other way around, which can be chalked up to spam tactics and pitches that have polluted the industry as a whole.

So, as more sites take on practices like State of Search, where will that leave the rest of the SEO industry that leans too heavily on guest blogging?

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Incentivizing Link Building to Promote Results

A few weeks ago, Derek Halpern over at Social Triggers, wrote a great piece on persuading people you don’t know to help you, aka getting links.

In short, Derek used the incentives brought to light in the popular book Freakonomics – economic, social and moral – then translated them into ways your outreach emails can provide value and increase responses.

Similar to Derek, I’m a fan of the thought process behind the Freakonomics’ incentives and use them for all facets of link building.

One of the most effective areas of these incentives falls on link builders themselves.
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Why Google Modifies Your Title Tags

Google Webmaster Central describes the site title, or title tag, as a quick representation of the content of a result and its relevance to a specific query.

Sounds basic right? However, one thing you may not know, or dealt with, is the fact that Google reserves the right to alter a title tag if they feel it isn’t the best representation of a page.

Over a year ago, Pierre Far – a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst – explained that algorithms will generate multiple alternative titles so that pages aren’t constrained to having the same static title tag for every search query.

The basic thought behind this to increase click-through ratios by displaying a “better,” more concise title tag or change the tag for semantic terms allowing users to easily recognize a relevant page. Yes, anyone who has ever written a PPC ad can tell you that a relevant, concise ad leads to an improved CTR, but what happens when the title isn’t a “better” choice for the user, or when it makes a site look incompetent?

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