6 Steps Digital Marketers Can Use to Earn Links - dummies

6 Steps Digital Marketers Can Use to Earn Links

By Ryan Deiss, Russ Henneberry

A search marketer must create a website that earns links from external sources. Links are the Internet equivalent of positive word of mouth about your business.

For instance, if a blog about personal finance links to the personal finance site Quicken.com, that link from the blog is saying that Quicken has quality content that the blogger considers trustworthy and relevant; it’s the Internet equivalent of a referral in the physical world. Pages with more links pointing to them generally get better search results than pages with fewer links.

Links that point to a web page are considered to be votes for that page. Search engines take into account the volume and, more important, the quality of the links to a page to determine which pages to serve in their results for a particular keyword search query.

Here, you find out how to earn links by using search marketing tactics that stay within the search engine’s terms of service and avoid black-hat tactics.

Step 1: Cross-link your own content

The method of building links that’s most under your control is cross-linking on your own site. If a financial planning website publishes a blog post titled “Ten Mistakes to Avoid When Planning for Retirement,” it would make sense, for both the reader and the search engine, to find a cross-link from this blog post to a page explaining the company’s retirement-planning services.

Linking within your own website improves user experience and sends signals to search engines about what pages are important on your website. Cross-link to important pages on your website wherever and whenever it makes sense to do so, while keeping user experience in mind.

Step 2: Study your competitors’ links

The next step is doing some competitive research. Using a tool such as Open Site Explorer, you can research your major competitors to see what sites are linking to them. Then reach out to those sites to see whether they’re interested in linking to your site as well.

Step 3: Create generous content

You can earn links by creating so-called generous content: content that mentions other people, especially influential people who could link back to you or share your content on their social networks. One way to create generous content is to write an article about a specific person or brand and then link to the appropriate site. This article may take the form of a biography or an interview.

Another way to build generous content is to create a crowdsourced post that asks experts to write 100 words or so on the same topic and then links to each expert’s site

The bottom line is that to earn links to your website, you need to start giving out some “link love” of your own. Be generous with your website by quoting others and referring your visitors to pages you like. Make sure that you let people know when you link to them.

Step 4: Create content worthy of a link

Great content provides assets that people want to share with their network. Create outstanding content, particularly on your blog, that people link to because it provides tremendous value. For example, a bank that wants to attract prospective homebuyers might build a free and easy-to-use monthly mortgage calculator. If others find this tool useful, they will link to it and improve that bank website’s standing in the search engines.

Step 5: Publish primary research

One powerful way to generate links is to publish primary research: new research that you collected yourself. Because primary research can be difficult and time-consuming to create, it’s valuable and rare. Solid primary research is in great demand and often leads to high-quality links as people cite that research on their web pages.

Step 6: Keep up with the news

The last step is creating newsworthy content and publishing it as the topic in question is trending. To do this effectively, keep an eye on industry news. One of the best ways to do that is to use social media, particularly Twitter, because Twitter tends to be the nervous system of the Internet.

Be ready to produce content about your industry at a moment’s notice or find creative ways to relate trending, newsworthy topics to your industry. This is tough work, but being one of the first people to create content can have a big payoff: You’ll be one of only a few sources of information about something, causing other people to link to you as the story develops.

But before you jump the gun, make sure that you can verify the news story or risk the embarrassment and damage to your reputation for publishing inaccurate information.