Is your website suffering from link deficiency?
You’ve probably heard how important backlinks are for SEO (roughly 40% of Google’s ranking factors). But getting inbound links ain’t easy. Rather than going out and building links on external websites, Google’s Matt Cutts says we should earn links through creative content.
And since part of creating “good” content is making your pages/posts stand out, I only found it appropriate to use a set of brilliant colored pencils to light this page up with some personality. I actually borrowed this idea from an article on Search Engine Journal (only they cheated and used a cute puppy). Either way, making your content visual, useful, and easy to navigate is WHY people will link to it. People don’t link to anything – you need to do something different.
1. Create Educational Content
This is the type of content people actually WANT to link to, they’re not just going to come by themselves. I specialize in SEO for WordPress so most people are looking for help configuring the Yoast SEO Plugin, or how to make a WordPress site load faster. These are some main topics people want to learn and I have spent WEEKS writing these tutorials. They’re the ones I put front and center in my navigation menu and the ones I link to most on my site. If you have a high value keyword but only a mediocre post about it, you should try improving that content.
What happens when you take a mediocre post and invest multiple days turning it into the best tutorial online? My Yoast tutorial went from 5 visits/day to 100 visits/day (all from SEO) within 24 hours of republishing it with the new content. Now it has over 190 comments and a TON of links from people who have found it through Google. Of course it’s been ranking on the first page for it’s keyword (Yoast SEO Settings) for years because I’ve invested hours and hours into the content. When Matt Cutts says to “create good content” that’s exactly what he means.
You need to identify key topics and write the ‘ultimate guide’ on each one. Yes it can take an entire week to write just one article, but that’s exactly what it takes if you want an extra 100 visits/day through a single post. Good content WILL pay off especially since Google has started penalizing websites with low quality content. 90% of my links are to my SEO tutorials.
Creating articles targeting high value keywords (educational topics) helps you:
- Establish long-term, high traffic posts
- Get links through SEO traffic it generates
- Be viewed as an authority in your industry
- Get tons of comments/conversations on those posts
- Acquire some of the most loyal followers through education
2. Spruce Up Your Content
Visual content is 40x more likely to get shared (source) and while nice graphics are obviously important, don’t limit your content to text and graphics. Embed a Twitter status if you’re quoting someone, use a 2 column layout to list pros and cons, embed a video, or use an HTML table of contents like you see in the top of this post to help people navigate to specific topics.
I personally like using 2 column layouts in many of my blog posts. I also know my content body is 680 pixels (width) which means if I’m using a 2 column layout with photos, each photo would be 330(w) if you count the 20 pixels of space between each column. Knowing your dimensionshelps you resize images to look better and makes them load faster. Just a quick tip for you 🙂
Although it’s specific to WordPress, my tutorial on how to spruce up content in WordPress has a LOT of ideas for diversifying your content. This includes how to add an HTML table of contents, embed a Youtube video without Youtube’s branding, embed social media statuses, style fonts, and other ideas. Here are just a few ways you can make your content more visual…
- Add an HTML table of content to help with navigation
- Design infographics using canva.com or hire a freelancer
- Embedded videos, ideally your own if it’s a high value topic
- Take screenshots (I do a LOT of this since I blog about WordPress)
- Use Advanced Twitter Search to find tweets to embed on your posts
- Style links (and their hover color) in your posts so they’re easy to see
- Use tables, 2 column layouts, buttons, lists, bold items, and other styling options
- Adding a photo/bio in your blog sidebar so people know who is writing the article
3. Add Videos
People love videos (and love linking to them too), but few website owners actually do this. Creating your own videos if definitely preferred if you have the time, but even finding a helpful video on Youtube adds a ton of value to your content, like what Matt Cutts says about links…
Listen, I’m an introverted dude who was completely uncomfortable creating SEO tutorials (I still cringe when I hear myself talk). But guess what? I have over 200,000 views between all my Youtube videos and have gotten links, clients, and affiliate sales through these videos. When I write a super important article on my site (like my tutorial on optimizing content for keywords) I will create a video and embed it on that tutorial. Videos not only attract links because people love them, but by embedding videos on your site you are also improving engagement with your content (average time on page) which Google uses to determine your rankings.
Higher rankings, more links, more subscribers, and more sales from people who saw your videos. That’s like a win-win-win-win! Suck it up, get a camera, and start creating some videos.
4. Design Infographics (In 10 Minutes)
What else do people like linking to? Infographics. Read this article by HubSpot which says visual content is 40x more likely to get shared. You can create these yourself using a free infographic maker like canva.com or hire a freelance infographic designer for around $100-$400 depending on the graphics, how detailed your directions are, and the freelancer’s rate.
This infographic literally took me 10 minutes to create…
I’m still trying to keep up with my videos, but you should be investing time in either videos or infographics – ideally both if you have the time/money. I urge you to create a couple videos or infographics and see what happens. I bet traffic to your post will double, and so will your links.
5. Post Long Content
One of the BIGGEST mistakes I see is people throwing up short content (usually mostly text) and wondering why it doesn’t rank. If you want to be on the first page of Google and people to link to you, your content needs to be better (and more thorough) than everyone else behind you. Longer content ranks higher in search engines and posts with 3000+ words is ideal. If you’re using WordPress, the Yoast SEO Plugin counts number of words for you in the content analysis tab, otherwise you can paste your full article in a Google Doc and do a word count.
When I revisit old posts to improve the content, I try add at least 500 words. You can plan out key topics (subheadings), add a table of contents in the beginning with those subheadings, then add additional sections to the article. Do your research and Google the keyword, see what other people are writing about, then include topics you think would make your article better.
6. Improve Your Design
People link to websites that look good. This does NOT have to cost a lot of money. For $40/hour you can hire a skilled overseas developer on freelancer.com who can help you design or redesign your site. I’ve been working with the same WordPress developer (Pronaya) for 5 years who is only $40/hour and helped me build over 25 websites when I was running a small WordPress design business. You can hire him by signing up for a freelancer account and searching for user BDkamol. I’ve invested $20,000 in him over 5 years because he’s that good.
Even if it means migrating your to a WordPress theme from StudioPress (super nice mobile responsive themes), I did this and it this has payed off HUGE for me. My old site wasn’t responsive so I migrated to StudioPress and while I can’t directly correlate it with link growth, it looks WAY better, loads in under 1 second, and is more SEO-friendly. Generally the nicer your website is (and the easier it is for people to find things) to more people will link to you.
7. Do More Content Marketing
Once you’ve creating an AMAZING piece of content around a high value keyword and published it, you need to get some eyeballs on it. Here are a few easy ways you can do that…
- Send out a newsletter
- Post it on your social networks
- Join Facebook groups and share it when appropriate
- Email bloggers in your industry who it would interest
- Mention people in the actual article (they could likely link to it)
- Publish interviews and quotes from Twitter to include more people
- Hold contests, prizes, and discounts in return for sharing your content
- Create a Youtube video about the topic and leave a link in the description
Avoid Hiring A “Link Builder”
You can hire an overseas link building freelancer on websites like freelancer.com and upwork.com but I would NOT do it since this can get you a Google penalty. I dabbled with some (very high rated) link building freelancers and they did get me ranked higher for WordPress SEO consulting and other services. But sure enough, within a couple months I got hit with a Google penalty and my traffic cut in half. It took me several months (and a lot of hard work) to recover from this penalty so do yourself a favor and avoid doing this together.
Besides, Matt Cutts says we should be earning links, not building them.
The few “link building” methods that actually work:
- Using internal links to link to related pages/posts
- Adding a link on your website on social media profiles
- Creating high quality directories (see my list of top directories)
- Outsourcing directory building to WhiteSpark’s citation building service
- Reaching out to bloggers and trying to get them to link to you (but don’t be spammy)
That’s all I got! If you have any questions about how to get inbound links to your website, drop me a line in the comments (glad to help). Just remember, people naturally want to link to good content so that is the single most important thing you can do to speed up your link growth.