Read the transcript of a recent recording of Ken McGaffin's link building webinar - "How to Build Links To Your Website" - here now:
Good afternoon everyone. My name is Ken McGaffin and I'm Chief Marketing Officer with Wordtracker. I've been building links for many many years and I've been responsible now for building the Link Builder tool with Wordtracker which we're developing on an ongoing basis (as a result not all the screen shots shown will match the tool exactly).
In today's webinar we're going to look at the process: how do you actually build links to your own website? Let's look at what we're going to cover today:
Link building steps
We're going to work through four steps.
Three ways links help your website and why another site will link to yours.
Three ways links help your website and why another site will link to yours. An important question, particularly if you're new to the whole link building process.
Find quality link prospects
We're going to look at how to find quality link building prospects. It's very important that you break them into campaigns. Even people who are experienced will find that concentrating on quality links is a very good strategy: even though it may be more difficult it will pay returns. We'll give you some examples on how to do that very quickly.
How to get links without asking
How to get links without asking – this is one of my favorite areas of link building. It is about creating such interest in your site, and such interest in your products or publications and the stories that you tell that you get links without having to ask them.
I'll be giving you eight examples based on my experience with Wordtracker, and others I have seen and reported on the web.
Where do most link building campaigns go wrong?
The final thing is where do most link building campaigns go wrong? I'll give you a checklist to help you in terms of your work and after that we'll have questions and answers.
Ok – three ways in which link building helps your website. Of course the very first one is probably very familiar to us all:
Links boost your search engine ranking
Links boost your search engine ranking, but it's the end result that's really important – you get more traffic and more sales to your website. So links on their own are not enough and search engine rankings on their own are not enough. What we want is traffic and sales. And of course search engines place a lot of importance on links. That's because on our own web pages we can say what we like, but on external pages it's hard for us to influence what other people say about us. Therefore Google thinks what is said on other sites is much more trustworthy. Hence, giving links the importance in terms of helping Google to determine which are the quality users.
People follow links
The second thing – and I'm very keen on this - is that when you get a link on a web page, people are likely to follow. In fact I would go so far as to say that people follow links like cars follow road signs. And the end result is the same – you get more traffic and sales to your website.
Lots of people forget about this – we want people to follow the links and arrive at our site, and at Wordtracker we get something like 35% of our daily traffic from links that we have on a wide number of external websites. So remember that it's people who are following the links, and we want to remember to have some good products and offerings for them when they arrive at our site.
Links establish your site as a leader
The third thing that's really important in link building is that it establishes you as a leader. So the more links you get pointing to your site the more established you become within your industry; and the harder it is for your competitors to catch up with you. So these are three powerful benefits. How do we start the process?
Most of you will now have the free trial to Link Builder. You don't need the tool to get something from this webinar because I'll be going through the whole process of link building. But I think you'll get a lot out of it if you do have the tool and it's a 7 day free trial and a full 30 day money-back guarantee so you have no reason not to sign up and try it out. You will get a lot from what I'm talking about today.
Wordtracker's link building tool
Here's the tool – the front page of the tool – very simple. There are two ways into it in terms of finding sites to analyze for links and then targeting the links that they have.
First is by analyzing the URLs (web pages) that rank for a certain keyword. It all depends for instance if we're in the fountain pen business or in, say, high quality bathrooms.
What we do is enter that keyword and search on a search engine – Google – and a geographical region and we'll get the top ten results for that. I'm going to come back to that and give you another example, but first I will use the next option.
This is the most common one for me: I can enter URLs into the second box here. You can enter up to 100, and then start the process of analyzing those links.
So let's look at what happens: I've put in some URLs – delta.com, southwest.com and aa.com (American Airlines.) You'll see the number of linking domains ie, the number of separate domains that link to those target URLs that we've entered. And you can see on the righthand side that the number of inbound links is higher. The reason for this is that you can have 1,000 links on one domain pointing to you, but that doesn't necessarily bring you additional search engine benefit. The most important thing is to have as many linking domains as possible – and quality linking domains.
Here are the results as you can see.
When I click on 'Show links' I then see the results table. We've kept it fairly simple. You'll see the 'Linking domain' – I've chosen aa.com so here are the domains that link to that site.
In the next column is the number of linking domains that link to those domains, and that's a measure of their popularity. If a link that you get a link from, or a domain that you get a link from, has itself a high number of inbound links, then that link is much more beneficial to you. The number of linking domains to those targeted domains is very important.
And the next thing we give you (and we'll show you after this how it affects some of the campaigns you do) is the URL for the page containing the top link. That means that you can go to that page and see the link in situ. Now we'll move on to show you why that is important.
If I want to look at cheap flights – URLs that rank for the keyword cheap flights I can choose Google (there are other search engines that I can choose) and I can choose a geographical area. In this case I chose USA. I've had a couple of questions in - “Can I build links for Spanish language sites?” Yes – you can do that because you would search on Google in Spain and get Spanish results and of course our database covers Spanish, English, French, German etc. So yes, you can link build in different languages. After we've entered this keyword, we go off and search the search engine of your choice and we analyze the top 10 results and analyze the links coming in to those top ten results.
So in the case of cheap flights these are the results. It's the top ten and they appear in the order that they appear in Google's results. What you can then do is click on 'Show links' on the righthand side for each of those to look at those in detail.
We've just added a new feature which helps you as you browse the web. It's called 'Link Stashes' and when you click on it you'll see an invitation to get this Firefox plugin.
It will be added to your browser and it means that any page that you find links on and decide that you'd like links from that list, you can do so.
Here's what happens. If I was doing a link building campaign, say, for a mountain bike website, the very first thing I'd do is to look to see if I can find some top bike blogs. I expect that many people will put together lists of the top blogs in their particular industry, and when I find those lists, targeting those blogs as well as the person who published them is a very good link building strategy. So what happens if I search for top bike blogs?
I arrive at the London Cyclist, which turns out to be a fantastic blog which has a list of the Top 50 cycling blogs which has been put together with a lot of effort.
Andreas, the guy behind it (I've interviewed him for Wordtracker), if you're interested in bikes, is a tremendous resource. If you are link building for your mountain bike site it might be very useful to get in touch with Andreas, and certainly to analyze the links that are coming in to his top 50 blogs.
What the Link Builder tool does is allow you to grab those links. Here's the browser extension in action: we'll click on the LB:
... and you will see that we can then extract the external links:
You can save those to your own account in Wordtracker Link Builder. Just to give you an example of how that is saved:
Let's move on ...
... to ask why would another site link to yours?
Again, very important information. I like to brainstorm and draw up as many reasons as possible as to why another site would link to yours.
Let's give you some ideas.
I've put these into three categories.
Because of who you are.
Because of what you do.
Because of what people say about you.
These are reasons why people will end up linking to your site.
Because of who you are: friends in your industry, people with websites who you will network with. You can link with each other and you can ask other people to link to you as a favor. That's a great way of getting links.
Directories – concentrate on the top dozen or so as well as specialist industry directories.
Look for resource lists – the top 50 bike blogs is a resource list, for instance.
Trade associations – if you're a member of one often it will provide a link to its members. They charge for it, but many do provide it free of charge.
Local groups of any sort.
Your suppliers or your customers.
Other types of specialist groups – special demographics for example if you're an over-50 entrepeneur or a mum at home entrepeneur. They'll link to you just because of who you are.
One of the things I advise people to do is to think on how many reasons the can come up with about why people link to them because of who they are? A great idea is to start listing those. Think about your industry and all the people who could link to you.
The second one is “Because of what you do.”
The very first thing to do is to ask people for a link. When you write an article or when you publish a piece or when you offer a product for use make sure you say, “If you've enjoyed this product/article then please link to it.” Encourage people.
Second thing is to show them how to link so you can actually show them the html and say to them “If you really enjoyed this article please link to us using this html.” Just drop it into your code.
If you comment a lot on blogs and forums: I'm not talking about comment spam where you hit a lot of blogs and leave an automated comment. I'm actually talking about looking at the top blogs in your area and making useful and helpful comments.
You can see that on many websites where they give you the code to use. The thing about that is that you can control the linking text that you get.
Give them tips and tricks about how to use your products so that people understand better. No matter what product you sell you can always enhance it by explaining to people how to use it. Those tips and tricks in themselves can attract external links.
Publish helpful articles and videos on your own site. It's very important to do this as a small business entrepeneur . Also publish articles and videos on other sites. I spend a lot of time where I can publish articles, and as a result of that they get the article for free and I get a link back. And that can be very useful.
Comment on breaking news stories. I like to check first thing in the morning what the news stories of the day are, and what articles can I write about that. Could I piggy-back on a story?
Those sorts of things “Because of what you do ...” will get you links if you spend a little of time doing that.
And the final thing - “Because of what people say about you ...”
They will make comments on what you've said or made.
They will review your products.
Publish good tips and tricks and people will pass them on with a thank you and a link to the original source.
People may write about you in terms of news articles and features. One of my favorite ways of building links is to ensure that important online news sources, magazines, newspapers and media are writing articles and features about us.
And of course people will just recommend you For Wordtracker people will say "here's a list of keyword tools" and include a link to Wordtracker.
That's to start your creative juices flowing a little bit.
It is important to bring this into your daily routine. Spend half an hour doing this. The important thing is that many of the points that I mentioned are really good for your business anyway. So build them into your daily routine and you'll find that your business benefits, and you'll also find that you get lots of link as a result. So it's that sort of engagement that we're after.
Some tactics to avoid, and I'll go through this quickly.
Buying links for SEO – it's a tactic that can work for a certain amount of time, but you need to keep moving and buying and that can be difficult for a small business.
Reciprocal link pages – pages built specifically to link out to sites and get a link back because tactically it no longer works.
3-way linking – any sort of arrangement where reciprocal links are made via a 3-way link. It doesn't really work.
Avoid low quality directories. It's not the number of domains that are important – it's the quality that brings links as well as search engine benefit.
And finally I think you should avoid anything that is automated. To gain quality links you have to put effort into it – you can't to it easily.
The great thing about link building is the relationships you build up with people. It's hard work but it's very useful to do it.
In Wordtracker we practice what we preach and offer free articles and I'm giving you an example here written by Mark Nunney, our own SEO: 62 steps to the definitive link building campaign. If you're wondering what to do next then this is a great article to give you some tips. We're continually updating it.
So, how do you find quality link prospects and manage campaigns? Let's look at some examples.
What makes a quality link prospect?
The site itself, their online presence in terms of the their place in the online community and their policies. Those are the sort of things that I look at.
I look at them very quickly in order to be able to decide if this is a quality link. So let's look at the site first of all:
Is it relevant? It must be relevant to your business. I've a question from the audience here, “Very few of the link requests that I get are relevant” - that means that they're probably not very valuable. They're probably machine-generated and not worth your time looking at. Look at and concentrate on relevant links.
Are there real people on the site? Are there regular writers? Is there evidence of that?
Is the content well written?
And one of the things I would like to know is if the content is updated frequently.
These are things I would ask about the site. The more yes's you get the more you can be convinced that this is a good site.
Their online presence: does the site link out to many other sites? If it does that's good news for yours because it should be possible to get links for your site as well. And we'll look at examples of that.
Has the site itself got good inbound links? Any site that is good and is well-established in your community is going to have good inbound links. Again, it's worth looking at.
Is the site well-established? It doesn't have to be but it certainly helps if the site has been around for a number of years. The longer it has been there the longer Google has been aware of it and the more valuable a link from that site is likely to be.
Does the site perform well on keyword searches? Of course, if a site is relevant to your market you want it to score well on keyword searches in your industry: another measure of quality.
First, are they easy to contact? People who link out regularly and are interested in hearing from you will make it easy to contact them. Also you don't really want to spend a huge amount of time tracking someone down unless it's crucially important. As a first step I would certainly look for sites who are easy to contact.
Do they publish resources or reviews? If they do then of course they could include a link to you. They could cover your resource or they could review your products.
Do they invite articles or guest posts? If they do, excellent – many links will be won by writing and submitting good quality articles.
Do they interview people for opinion or case studies? People are very keen on writing stories and illustrating the points that they're making with real stories.
Let's move on to what the tool does in terms of analyzing competitors. Let's look at some of the processes.
I like using real websites to illustrate what I'm talking about. I love fountain pens and I came across this site about handcrafted wooden fountain pens. I like to ask myself the question, if I was link building for this site how would I get links for them?
It's a fountain pen site so what I would say is that I want to look at other fountain pen websites to see who is linking to them. For this purpose I've entered in the top four fountain pen websites and I'm going to look at the top of those.
The top URL at the bottom is parkerpen.com as you can see. Let's see what we can find in terms of link building opportunities. Click on 'Show links' on the righthand side ...
... and we can see the top sites that are linking to parkerpen.com. There are over 1200 results in this particular example, and a very good idea is to start browsing through these opportunities. If I go down to the bottom of the page ...
... here as you see are the results. I can see there the number of linking domains. Parkerpens has the highest. And I'll click on 'Show links' and have at look at who's linking in to Parkerpens.
Here's one I've picked out – marcuslink.com. If I click on the top link – the column on the righthand side has the top links ...
... I'm taken directly to the page and there you can see the link to Parker Pens on the page. It's useful to be able to do that because you can then see the link in situ because then you can see why the link got there.
There's something interesting in this site in that the person behind it says “I would appreciate an email so that I can keep the information current.” This is great for link builders because the person behind it is actually inviting you to get in touch. You should really be looking out for these opportunities. Someone has asked a question – “how should I contact people like this?”
They usually make it very easy, but here's one tip on what you should use in the subject line. There's a big difference between someone using a subject line “Link request” which is possibly going to get ignored because it might be spammy and there might be hundreds of them. Much better to say something like “Another useful resource on fountain pens.” We're telling them in advance that there's another useful resource and we're more less selling the idea to them before we start. It's so important to sell yourself on your first contact, and there's no right way of doing this. You've got to be comfortable with it and try it out for yourself.
Another result I've picked out is penheaven. Let's have a look at that site.
Here we can see a whole page devoted to Parker Pens and a link to the Parker Pen website. What I would say about that is that this is probably some sort of business or affiliate arrangement and perhaps if you're looking to build links you can have a similar arrangement with Pen Heaven.
They make it easy to contact – there's the address, there's the email address and there's the telephone number. So, sites that will link to you are going to make it easy for you to find those details.
Another thing I'm going to look at is brandchannel ...
... that appears to me to be an editorial about Parker Pens.
Here's an online magazine called Brand Channel and they've got an editorial on Parker Pens from which they link to Parker Pens' website. I like getting editorial links because they have good authority and if there's a community around it I'll get more links from their audience. So, if I wanted to get a link from Brand Channel what would I do? Let's find out more about the site.
Let's find out more about the site. I would go to the home page, and there you'll see on the righthand side “Send us story ideas” - even magazines are interested in getting stories and hearing from you. If you do any sort of link building research you'll find a whole range of opportunities like that. We've just looked at three from the hundreds upon hundreds of results that you can get. There are some great opportunities in there: it's just a matter of digging for them and finding them out.
So, by analyzing competitors (we've just analyzed four) we've quickly found three interesting opportunities. A list of pen websites, a list of possible affiliate arrangements and an opportunity for editorial coverage. And there are many more opportunities in those results so go through them and see what you can find.
The next tactic I would use is to analyze a 'big personality' website.
What do I mean by a 'big personality'?: those types of website that are never out of the news. If you pick up a newspaper or read a news website then you'll see people write about them. Starbucks is always written about; Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic, Southwest Airlines. Many companies are written about with much greater regularity than the size of their brand might dictate. The Body Shop is another example. People who grab the limelight.
Because they do grab the limelight, analyzing people like them is going to be a great way to find lots of people who will link to you.
Here's another example. Here's a product that comes from a website called Springwise.com. This is a waterproof jacket, tent and sleeping bag all-in-one – it's called Jakpak. If I was thinking about this, where would I go? Let's think of a personality site in that area. What I would think about would be Patagonia.
Patagonia.com is very well known, has a great reputation and lots of inbound links so let's have a look. What you'll find are great opportunities, so I'll just go through that process with you.
Here's the site – a great website for those of you who don't know it.
What we'll do is enter patagonia.com here and start to analyze those links.
And here are the sites linking to Patagonia.com. We can see that some of these are dominated by media sites – Telegraph, New York Times, San Francisco Herald, Wired Magazine etc. Again, let's look at the results and see what we can find.
On Page 2 I found this – greenwoman.typepad.com. I as browsing through the results and for some reason I picked this up – I wondered what greenwoman.typepad.com was like.
So I click on it and I see that this a blog. I can also see that there is a lot of good content. It's updated, the articles are tweeted, there are comments on it. It gives me the impression that there is an audience on this site, there's a good Google pagerank and there are a good number of inbound links. What I can do to find something more is to click on the 'About' and I find out more about the person behind the site – more about Diane.
Now remember, it's not websites that make links – it's people who make links to you. And really, if you want to be a success you've got to find these people and you have to build a relationship with them. If you do, then the links will follow. Diane makes it easy because she says “Email me.” If you've got a story or something to say, “Email me” is a terrific opportunity for a link builder.
Of course, you need to make sure that you're being relevant to what she's about. That's fine for that example, but it sends me down another route in terms of thinking.
Big Green Purse is a 'green' website. So what I can do back in Link Builder is to filter all those results I've found and find how many of them are 'green'-related. What this filter does is that it searches the complete URL of all the links that we've reported and will pick out the ones that include green in the URL. Let's just have a look at that:
Here it is. You can see greenbiz.com, huffingtonpost, great-green-fashion-brand, green.com. In fact we've found that 77 of those links include the word 'green.' This is excellent because those are clearly focused on an issue, and what I can do is create a campaign around green sites. So what I can do is just look at the results, pick out a few interesting ones, and then apply the filter and I've got 77 potential targets.
That's excellent, and because they're all interested in green issues I can take a similar approach to each. What I'm now going to do is to use the function 'Save selection to campaign' and I'll call it green-sites (you can call yours whatever you like.) And those 77 results will automatically be saved.
What I would say is that if there's one green blog that links to Patagonia perhaps there are many, and so what I can do is use the filter function on Link Builder.
So there's the name I've given it, “Click to enter description ...,” 57 prospects (what we've done is filtered out duplicates.) There are none of course as none have been contacted because we've just created it. Click here to enter description:
Inside the campaign itself let's look at the information we're giving you.
Here are those 57 prospects that I have saved. Here's the link prospect and underneath it the top link, which is very important. All I have to do is go to the page on which the link to Patagonia sits by clicking that.
The number of linking domains coming into that domain (the higher the number of linking domains, the more popular that domain is likely to be and the more useful a link prospect.)
Then I can enter the notes. Completely generated by yourself, so whatever system you've devised yourselves, use.
<img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/_luxWQJ4WS74/TMg5Igq9QiI/AAAAAAAAAls/lIw0NiCIDP0/s800/Page%2074.jpg" style="width: 650px; height: 487px;" alt="Status column />
'Status' - whether you've contacted them yet. Very useful.
You can also set the 'Priority - 1-5. I usually use number 1 as being the most important. That's completely up to yourself.
I've created a green-sites campaign, but I can go back to the Patagonia results and create something else. What about 'blogs' - ie, any of the URLs containing the word blog. I can see 290 links containing the word 'blog' and linked to Patagonia.com. That gives me a campaign of websites that are interested in outdoor clothing. That again is useful.
I can do the same thing just by looking through the results. I can see there a lot of organizations that link to patagonia.com. I've found 162 and can build a campaign centered on non-profit organizations. I can do that on .edu etc.
I could do it on news or articles. I can find sites on magazines, newspapers, online sites that perhaps I can get coverage in and a link to my site.
Another thing that I really wanted to cover as we talked about Patagonia is the variety of links that they get. Here's one “Green Money Journal” - a stock market magazine. They link to Patagonia.
Here's a university website where Patagonia sponsored the frizbee team, and they get a link in return for that.
Here's the standard list that you would get – from an Adventure School. A very normal links type page.
Here's another magazine – Backpacker.com - that links to Patagonia. They're linking to one of Patagonia's products.
Ecotrust which links because of Patagonia's involvement in the community.
And finally Mothering magazine, which produces the green guide for mums, recommending good green products.
As you can see there's a wide variety. They're all relevant to get links from, but what the tool is doing is giving us lots of ideas of sectors that we could approach.
By analyzing a 'bit personality' website we've quickly built three campaigns. Green websites, blogs and news and article sites. So in your situation look for opportunities to create your own campaigns just as I've done, and you'll see that there are terrific opportunities out there. Doing a campaign saves time and maximizes your chance of being a success.
We're going to look at a third tactic in link analysis and that is analyzing a magazine website.
Here's an organic farm that sells to restaurants. If I was link building to this site how would I go about it? One good way of doing it would be to look at a magazine.
Here's saveur.com which is an excellent magazine and website on food and perhaps this would be of interest. What I want to find out is if they link out. As you'll see here I've circled “Sites We Love” up on the righthand side so we'll have a look at that:
They list over 700 sites that they link to from the magazine. That's good news. Let's take a look at one of them: '3 Guys from Miami.'
Here are some articles that they've taken from 3 Guys from Miami. I'll go to the website:
And here are the three guys. I can therefore see that it does indeed link out and it goes up my list of priorities.
I may well contact Saveur. Magazines and news sites often link to each other because they comment on different news stories. So by finding one magazine you'll find many, many more by doing link analysis.
Let's give one example of that.
We've found 1800 of the top sites linking to saveur.com and the thing we should do is scan through the results looking for ideas.
For instance here's one that caught my eye - Too Many Chefs - and I decided to have a look at it.
It's a blog with good content on it, it's ranked well on Google – it fulfilled a lot of our criteria.
And then at the bottom I see “Too Many Other Chefs.” I see a list of other sites and blogs put together by other chefs. So just by looking at “Too Many Chefs” has given me a niche that I hadn't thought about in the first place. So the whole process of link analysis has been very creative in terms of suggesting niches to you that you wouldn't have thought of.
So, by analyzing the linking domains to a magazine website we found a very interesting niche: blogs published by professional chefs.
My advice to you is to do the same within your own industry. Find magazines and have a look at their websites. If they're good websites then they're likely to have a lot of people linking to them and those people who do link are going to be likely targets for yourselves.
Here's a quick reminder of the URL to get a free trial of the tool. /linkbuilder
This is one of my favorite subjects – how to get links without asking, and I'll be giving you eight examples of how to do this.
You've probably all heard of Seth Godin. I came across him some years ago when he published a book called “Unleashing the Idea Virus,” which was a great way of showing how ideas could spread. What he did was publish the book and gave it away for free online. I took this as inspiration and applied it to link building, creating a publication called the Linking Matters report:
I made that available for free and it was many, many years ago. I had tremendous coverage and links from some of the top people in the business. It was Seth Godin who gave me the inspiration and kicked off my link building career, and it was by producing a quality piece of resource and getting links to it for free.
Another fantastic one for those of you who haven't seen it is Will it Blend.com. It was put together for just a few hundred dollars and the company behind it is Blendtec who make food processors in the US. They asked a simple question: will various things blend? In this case they actually blended a real iPhone in the machine. Good fun and very useful and it got tremendous coverage online. Much, much better than that is that their sales absolutely rocketed. Their online sales went up something like 300% - it was a fantastic selling initiative for the company.
I'm now going to look at one we did for Wordtracker and I'm going to look at the steps we took. We brought out a free tool that would allow people when they were blogging to optimize their posts as they wrote them. In a matter of weeks it brought us over 1,000 inbound links. Here's what we did - and it's a process if you want to follow this method.
First we did extensive research to identify blogs who would write about how to blog for business because we thought they would be interested in writing about our free blogging tool, and indeed that turned out to be the case. Here's one of the many searches we did on this, using 'business blogging' to see who comes top.
It's actually an article from Business Week magazine that comes top of Google results with over 3,000 linking domains. We can actually look at those linking domains and get tremendous information.
These people all link to one article on business blogging in Business Week, so many of these people will be interested in what we're offering. It's a very important first step to do that research.
We then commissioned a book from Chris Garrett, an expert on blogging for business and that made us some revenue.
We then created a category and added content on our own site. All you have to do is look at the [Wordtracker Academy(/academy) to see how much free information we give away. We do that because we know it brings people to us and it helps us sell products. So it's a fantastically useful tactic.
About four days before we released the software officially we contacted the top people that we found through our research and we asked them to try the tool for free. And of course we hoped they would write about it and review it and tweet about it.
We then wrote a series of customized press releases. You don't send just one press release – you tweak your press releases for different markets and then send those to targeted publications. Again, it's all about targeting publications.
Then we tweeted about the launch extensively, and many of the experts who had been given access to the free tool before launch also wrote some tremendous articles. We had a fantastic day on Twitter because the story really spread. That's a quick summary of a very useful campaign that we did recently on a tool called SEO Blogger.
I'm going to pick up on some more stories. There's a dating website called beautiful people.com who got a lot of coverage in January of this year. Not all of it was positive – a lot was negative but they got tremendous coverage nonetheless, and many many links.
What the dating site did was to kick 5,000 members out because their photographs revealed that they'd been over-indulging over Christmas and the New Year and so they could no longer be regarded as beautiful people.
Now that's quite controversial – I'm not sure I quite like it as a tactic, and this article in Tech Crunch criticized them for doing it but they got many, many positive stories. Controversy can be a great link building tool but you may get negative as well as positive comments.
Something that we did with Wordtracker was a Keyword Research Guide – I'll just run through that very quickly.
We created a story ...
... about someone who was selling vegetarian dog food online. We then contacted top experts on the web and we asked, if you were advising this person, how would you tell them to do their keyword research and promote their products? Nine of those experts gave us 1,000 word articles which made a free e-book of about 10,000 words and that was tremendous for us.
And here is one of the articles we got on SearchEngineWatch.
And on Whatsnextblog as well.
Now I'm going to give another quick example. This is from Lonely Planet and they publish a survey every year called Travellers' Pulse. They do it in two ways. First as they launch the survey they say if you take part you have a chance of winning a prize. You can see it here at The Travel Tart which is a good travel blog, and is of course linked to Travellers' Pulse.
Another favorite of mine is what's newsworthy about an office to let. A lot of people say to me that that's alright for Wordtracker but what if they have a small company selling something that isn't particularly exciting. Like an empty office.
There's nothing remarkable about this website.
Yet the website was featured and got links from ...
... MarketingSherpa – a brilliant blog.
Smallbiz Pipeline – another incredibly useful source to get a link from.
Business owners' Ideas Cafe as well.
How did they do that?
They created a simple contest – the home office from hell. What they realized was that their target market included people who were working from home and had had enough – felt that they needed to get out. So, they turned that piece of customer knowledge into a promotion and launched the “Home Office from Hell” contest. It was a very clever and very useful way to do it and they got lots of attention.
Another tool we launched was Keyword Questions (a free one). It's great for getting ideas for content – you just enter in a keyword and it gives you the questions that come up for that keyword. Questions that people ask that come up on our database.
How to make yourself sick, how to call in sick, how to get sick, can I be fired for calling in sick for instance. If you were in HR that might give you some great ideas for articles.
We all seem to be obsessed with how tall people are, how tall Tom Cruise is, how tall the Eiffel tower is etc etc. That can be great for ideas as well as a bit of fun.
Finally, I'm going to look at some of the mistakes to avoid.
You can go wrong if you don't create a good enough reason to link. Put the time into making sure you've either got the content or the help or the overall offering to make it worthwhile for people to link to your website.
A bad link builder doesn't spend enough time researching who is important. It's the very first thing I do and as you've seen in the presentation I've spent a lot of time and a lot of thought searching good contacts and finding who the people are behind them as well as finding out as much about them as I can.
A bad linker will go for quantity over quality. It is always quality I'm interested in. A quality link is worth thousands of other links. Always go for quality.
Don't expect immediate results – that's a mistake. Also it's a big mistake not to engage with a specific community. So if you're promoting fountain pens then you have to get people who really love, read about, write about fountain pens.
And the final thing I will say is they don't make link building part of a routine. Part of mine is to do at least half an hour in the morning looking for opportunities and that will give me ideas later on the in the day that I will follow up.
For a list of dates for Ken's regular live webinars go to "How to Build Links to Your Website"
About Ken McGaffin
Ken McGaffin is an experienced internet marketing consultant and has worked for major pharmaceutical companies, advertising agencies, government bodies and non-profit organizations.
Ken unveils the secrets of successful link building in his 384-page e-book, Successful Link Building
You can watch recordings of his extremely popular (and free) Link Building Webinars