Links are by far the most important metric when it comes to websites’ ranking. In simple terms this means if you want to improve your ranking, for instance, for any money-making keyword in a relatively competitive niche, you will need quality links along with other supporting elements such as interesting content, minimum page load time, seamless user experience and more.
Like it or not, it is very difficult, if not impossible to take your brand to the next level without links pointing back to your website.
There are many ways to build these links; including donations, link exchange, encouraging guest posts, infographics, ego-bait, link-bait, interviews, crowd sourced posts and others, but the best links are those that are natural.
Natural links are created when your content captures the eyes and minds of your targeted audience who mention you or talk about your products on their personal blogs, websites or other portals.
If you are an established brand, creating natural links would be easy, but it won’t be the same for a new business as acquiring natural links can be challenging and even slightly daunting, sometimes requiring you to go out of the way and think out-of-the-box. There are a number of reasons why established brands get natural links. Talk about design competitions and the first name that pops in mind is 99design. Isn’t it so? It is because they brand themselves in a way that keeps them ahead of their competitors.
Similarly if you talk about marketing tools then Ahrefs.com is one of the top players of the game. Because of their mind-blowing link database, they end up creating links naturally.
Think email marketing and landing page creation and Mail Chimp comes to mind. It is the number one contender in the genre which is why bloggers and their followers’ link back to them naturally.
Every big brand offers something unique. It could be their experience, product, content or something else that they use to create natural links to their website.
So, how can I get natural links like established brands?
Established brands have their own unique value proposition that attracts links naturally while new and emerging brands need to work on creating a compelling value preposition that is strong enough to attract links naturally.
The following highlights some creative content ideas that can help you set your values, and become the talk of e-town!
Help is better than Advice
A couple of days back on ahref’s blog, someone wrote about how smart marketers build thousands of White Hat links with zero outreach. When you say ‘zero outreach’ it means natural links across the board that point back to your website!
This technique is still new and not many brands understand its significance. This is an opportunity which can set you apart from your competition, which, at the end of the day is your ultimate goal.
The idea is very simple. Instead of creating a website and advising your audience on what to do and how, stop dictating for a while and start helping your users by solving their problems.
Check out this US Mortgage Calculator. From a technical standpoint it is not a complex tool and programing it does not take more than a few weeks, maximum. Now, see how much it’s worth in terms of links.
Now 589 Links from 136 referring domains is excellent! If you create such a tool on your website, not only will your ranking improve, but it will also give you a huge number of referral traffic that can later be converted into business leads.
What’s in it for you as a new brand?
It’s simple. Research your own industry, find the gaps or unsolved problems and instead of letting people know about them, invest on creating a solution.
I’m not talking about solving big problems, but smaller problems, and then give it away for free. Once people use your solution and like it, they will naturally talk about your work on social media platforms and link-in your tools for their circle to see and benefit from.
Note: If increasing rankings for your brand and creating brand authority in the market is your ultimate goal then in that case I would advise that you include the tool as part of your main website, but if you have other plans then you can always develop a separate website for this.
Become an Influential Speaker at prominent industry events
This is another idea that not many new brands are pursuing but one that could push your brand into the limelight in a fairly short period of time.
If you or one of your employees is a good speaker who loves to interact with people, then plan to speak at industry conferences. It will lead you to create a brand name for your business, find new potential business opportunities, give you a chance to undertake impactful social promotion and help create several quality natural links.
And I’m not talking about conferences where the attendance does not exceed a few hundred. I mean conferences the size of SMX, SES, Search Love, MozCon and the like that have the capacity to start new trends within the industry.
People who spend their time and money on such events and conferences also write about their experiences on personal or company blogs and websites. Also, many hundreds of people attending such events usually send live tweets about conference speakers and share their views about ongoing discussions.
So, if you land a speaking slot in an event like this and are able to make full use of it you would most likely attract countless social media mentions and links. I had attended MozCon last year, and as I searched the agenda page on Ahrefs.com, I was amazed at the number.
Both social media and link numbers were very impressive. And most probably (if you are a speaker) agenda page will have a link pointing back to your site too.
What’s in it for a new brand?
- Even if you get a speaking slot at a big conference, this is only just the beginning.
- When you are new, people are not really excited when they see you onstage, the way they are when they listen to maestros like Wil Reynolds or Rand Fishkin. So the most important thing is to create an outstanding presentation that will help you stand out from the crowd, and make people remember you in a positive way.
Conduct Surveys that matter
This might sound old-school, but you that can do wonder if you use it right. If you are able to create the kind of content or provide a solution that can smooth creases for users, quality links will be knocking on your door before you know it!
However, there are reasons why surveys don’t work for many. Bear in mind the following three key points to make your surveys hit the mark!
- Be unique: One reason why many people fail to benefit from surveys is their lack of uniqueness if you are planning to conduct a survey on a subject that has been covered extensively; you are not bringing anything new to the table. In order to attract natural links you have to be unique.
- Gather data: Limited information is another reason why surveys fail. You cannot really decide if X phone is better than Y phone by just asking 30 people around you. I know gathering data from a large number of people is time-consuming, but again gathering quality natural links is going to be worth all the effort you can put in.
- Stay updated: Brands that do extensive research and contain a unique angle can also fail, because most of the times they don’t fully comprehend the necessity of updating their data from time to time. Data that is not updated on time is ‘dead data’ and dead data never attracts valuable links.
If you have a unique angle, you can attract a decent number of people to participate in your surveys. In addition to this if you keep on updating your data on a regular basis, there is no way that you can’t get links like Conductor.
Check out this survey post that managed to get 49 links from 18 referring domains.
What’s in it for a new brand?
It is very simple. Research your industry, figure out problems and see what is missing. Sit with your team and brainstorm new ideas. Conduct an extensive survey on the subject. Once done, publish and promote as much as you can and then see the magic.
Alessio Madeyski is one intelligent marketer but many people know him for his amazing ‘Meet Your SEO‘ series. It’s a series where he interviews the SEOs of his choice.
The idea seems very simple and the concept did not just work very well within the industry but also earned him a lot of fame and respect as a professional. Some natural links pointing back to his website were an obvious bonus.
One of the best ones that I like was the analysis of all MYS interviews by Steve Morgan.
The point is, if you can come up with an idea that can go viral on social media, you will get natural shares, referral traffic as well as natural links out of it.
The numbers are truly awe-inspiring! After digging deep into this domain’s link profile, you will also observe that a great number of links are coming in because of the ‘Meet Your SEO’ and ‘Meet Your Marketer’ series.
What’s in it for new brand?
Everything! When Alessio came into the industry, nobody knew him well. But he created a name for himself after he came up with this brilliant interview series. He also promoted it in a way that it received hundreds of natural links. Even if you can come up with an old idea but give it a fresh, new angle, you stand a good chance of getting quality links naturally.
The Ultimate Guide Idea
I wrote a book last year with one of my industry fellows and honestly I’m not particularly happy with the results. Not because it wasn’t a good book to read, but because it wasn’t the number one source to quote when people talked about effective link building.
So, when I talk about the ultimate guide, I mean the kind of guide that becomes the standard when people look for a related subject. For instance, when we talk about SEO guides, the first name that comes to mind is ‘Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO’.
So what made this particular guide reach the top while many others could not?
This thought inspired me to pick a few guides that didn’t garner much attention despite having good content. Here is what I’ve learned.
- New Writer: Most guides fail to get due attention if the writer is new and relatively unknown, even if the content was great.
- Lack of promotion: Whenever a new product is launched, its promotion can literally define its fate. This also holds true for books. Many new writers fail to grab readers’ attention simply because their products do not receive the promotion needed to be successful.
- Challenges with UI: UI is very important. The guides that fail to work usually had design and UI issues that made users quick jump out of the page and bounce.
These are the most common problems faced by brands looking to get natural links. If you think your guide to be your ‘evergreen’ content that will attract links over the course of the entire year, it has to be well-researched and thorough so that it has the quality to become the number one reference point when the audience talks about a related subject.
It is also important to make your guide book aesthetically appealing so that users don’t lose interest at the very beginning. Lastly, allocate a budget for promoting the guide so that people recommend it to others too.
What’s in it for new brands?
Bear in mind that it could be a challenge for you to spend time in creating a guide because when you are new to an industry, people usually take a while to see and appreciate the credibility of your work. To make it easier for yourself, you could get some comments on your work from the giants of your industry which would help boost its popularity.
At the end of the day, it is important to understand that if you are passionate about your product, understand your industry well and are able to come up with thorough and well-researched ideas, it won’t take long for you to start getting natural links!