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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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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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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Google Offers Disavow Links Tool – Cautions Webmasters

Yesterday at Pubcon Vegas, a search, social media and affiliate marketing conference, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team announced a new tool for webmasters – the disavow links tool.

This tool, giving webmasters the ability to disassociate themselves from link spam, has built up much anticipation since Bing released their disavow links tool nearly three months ago, and could be seen as a savior to the many sites that were directly afflicted by Penguin. And while Bing’s tool may look more user friendly, Google’s formatting is much easier once you understand the process.

*Note: if this tool confuses you, DON’T use it. Hire someone who knows what they are doing.
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Finding Link Opportunities Through Backlink Analysis

Matt Polsky Backlink AnalysisFinding linking opportunities through backlink analysis requires you to have some common sense, basic knowledge of your competitors, an idea of what good links are, and you’ll also need access to a quality backlink analysis tool like SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer.

I’m a huge fan of Open Site Explorer, but I’ve also come to like using Ahrefs Site Explorer, due to the in-depth reports you can run, such analyzing anchor text by terms, shown here by Ross Hudgens; however, with this example I’ll be focusing mostly on Open Site Explorer, since it gives me quick access to the metrics I like to see on the fly.
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Link Building that Results in an Unnatural Link Warning

With Google sending out an average of 20 unnatural link warnings a day, in addition to the 20,000 that have already been sent out, it may be useful to know what links are affecting your site and what link building tactics are responsible for the warning or penalty.

Here is a list of link building tactics that Google frowns upon, and, if you are using these tactics, it would be in your best interest to stop or at least do a better job of hiding it.
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Link Warnings Update Leads to Confusion and Changes

Matt Cutts posted on Google+ last week telling webmasters not to panic over receiving unnatural link warnings. Cutts said:

“If you received a message yesterday about unnatural links to your site, don’t panic…Yesterday, we took another step towards more transparency and began sending messages when we distrust some individual links to a site.”

The first feeling of many webmasters may have been panic, but that quickly followed up with anger. This is easily shown by many of the comments left on Cutts’ Google+ post. Comments such as this one by Meg Geddes:
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