When it comes to link building there are three types of inbound links that your blog needs in order to soar up to the top of Google.
Link #1: The Broad High Authority Site Link
The best kind of broad high authority links are from major news sites. Some of these would include The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, New York Times, and The Houston Chronicle. A couple of these links pointed to your blog can make a big impact on everyone of your Google rankings. These broad high domain authority links do not need to point to any specific web page on your blog. Whether it points to your home page or a blog post from last year, it will still pay dividends by delivering you loads of organic Google traffic. In addition, you do not have to worry about having specific keywords in the anchor text of the link. Most of these links will have your brand name as the anchor text of the link, and that will work just fine.
There are two strategies that work best for getting high authority links from major news websites.
Strategy One – HARO (Help a Reporter Out)
In episode 62 of my podcast, I broke down my entire HARO link building formula. If you have not listened to this episode yet, then make sure you listen to it after this episode.
Strategy Two – The Statistics Post
With HARO, you are actively responding to reporters that need an expert quote. The statistics post, on the other hand, is completely passive.
The way this process works is really simple. Reporters use Google, just like us, to find statistics that they can use for their articles. If they find your post and use your stat, then you will get a big fat juicy link back to your blog.
Here is my secret process for using statistics posts to attract high quality links from reporters.
- Create a Post Title that is Optimized for Google - Use my title formula that I have mentioned many times before, which is Odd Number + Power Word + Exact Keyword Phrase. If your keyword phrase is “social media statistics,” then your title might be 25 Brand New Social Media Statistics.
- Use Bullets to List Out Each of Your Stats – Reporters are always on a deadline and have little time to spend sifting through articles to find statistics. You will want to list out each of your statistics, using bullets, in groups of 6 to 9 stats. At the end of each group, you will write your commentary. The commentaries will allow you to expand your total word count beyond 1000 words.
- Curate At Least 10 More Stats than The Competition – Before you write your statistic post, go through and scan the titles of the first 30 results on Google for the keyword phrase you are targeting (i.e. social media statistics). Identify the largest number in a title and compile at least 10 more stats. If the largest numbered title is 27 Great Social Media Statistics, then your title will be 37 Brand New Social Media Statistics. Reporters, like most people, will click on the title with the biggest number.
I suggest that you come up with a list of every possible statistic that you can write a post on. If you have a social media blog, then you would make stat posts for Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on.
Link #2: Specific Keyword Targeted Page Links
These are the type of links you want to receive on your funnel pages or pillar posts that drive the most subscribers, leads, and sales.
I will walk you through a quick example to explain this a little better. Let’s say you are a search engine optimization company. One of your top converting pages on your website is a free SEO audit tool. People come to this page to insert their url and email address for a free SEO audit, and it does a quick automatic SEO review of their website.
For this type of page, you will want to get influencers to mention your SEO audit tool in a post about search engine optimization. Ideally, the link will be using the anchor text, “SEO audit tool.”
There are three parts to this equation that work together to push your page up in the Google rankings.
#1 The Influencers – Every niche has influencers that Google loves. Getting a brand mention or link from one of these is weighted heavily in their ranking algorithm.
#2 The Matched Post Content Where Link is Located – If you are trying to rank for an SEO related keyword phrase, then a link from an article on SEO is going to make a bigger impact than an article about email marketing.
#3 The Targeted Anchor Text – The trifecta for the targeted page link would include the exact anchor text of the phrase you are wanting to rank for. In this example, the anchor text would be “SEO audit tool.”
In the old days, black hat SEO’ers would blanket the internet with anchor text links, and Google would instantly give them a number one ranking. You do not want to do this, or anything remotely similar to this.
The best practice is to start by creating a page or post that is better than everything else on the topic. Whether it is a tool or a post, it needs to be the best of the best. If you accomplish this and let the right influencers know about it, then the rest will take care of itself.
Many small blogs have turned into powerhouses by creating free tools and pillar posts designed to attract inbound links.
Example One: MOZ’s Open Site Explorer Tool
One blog that used this technique was SEOMoz, which is now just called MOZ. During a time when everyone was obsessed with Google page rank, they launched a free tool called Open Site Explorer. This tool gave a deeper breakdown of page rank, which MOZ called domain authority. Over the years, this tool has attracted inbound links from over 5000 different root domains. My blog is one of the root domains that links to their tool. I have linked to it in 17 different blog posts. All of these links have turned into millions of monthly visitors for the MOZ blog. They have converted these visitors to customers, and today, MOZ makes tens of millions of dollars in yearly revenue.
Example Two: CoSchedule’s Blog Headline Analyzer
Another rags to riches blog story, with a free tool as the main character, is that of CoSchedule. They wanted to build an audience of bloggers and solopreneurs, which they could sell their social media posting service to. CoSchedule decided to make a free web tool that analyzed blog headlines. The tool scores your post headlines and gives you tips on how to improve them. This tool has been linked to by 1537 root domains. All of these links pushed their domain authority all the way to 78, and it lead to a ridiculous amount of number one rankings. These top rankings were not just for any run of the mill keyword phrases. We are talking about over 1000 highly targeted phrases. This type of traffic would cost them $40 a click if they were to pay for it on Google Adwords.
Example Three: Quick Sprout’s Online Marketing Pillar Post
In addition to tools, exceptional pillar blog posts can lead to a lion’s share of backlinks. Neil Patel used this strategy to turn his Quick Sprout blog into an 80+ domain authority site. His most successful pillar post was a beginner’s guide to online marketing. This is not your average pillar post. It is a visual masterpiece filled with top notch content. It is made up of 14 chapters and has almost 20,000 words.
Full disclosure here… Neil did spend several thousands of dollars on a graphic designer to make this post look absolutely stunning.
Not every pillar post needs to have 20,000 words and a graphic design budget of $5000. In Neil’s case, he was trying to rank for the phrase “online marketing.” This keyword phrase has one of the highest level’s of competition of any phrase on Google. A link worthy pillar post just needs to go a few steps further than the best stuff that is already out there.
At the end of the day, a link worthy pillar post can be made by anyone. You just need to have the time available to put in the research and write an exceptional post. The free tool is the one that most bloggers believe is out of their reach. The truth is, that most free tools can be created with a budget of less than $500 via Upwork.com. This can be a great investment, which can separate your blog from the rest of the crowd.
Link #3: Niche Links
Most of the successful blogs out there are creating all of their content around a particular niche. If you have a dog breeding site, then you are going to want other dog breeding blogs to link to you. Google keeps track of this, and it is called topic authority. I have seen plenty of niche blogs with low domain authority get well over 100,000 monthly visitors. I am talking about domain authority as low as 24.
The combination of hyper focused blog posts around a specific topic and niche links will bring number one rankings. Not first page rankings, but actual number one rankings. A number ranking is going to pull ridiculous traffic, and the traffic is going to have a 300% higher conversion rate than the number two ranking. The great thing about niche links is that they are pretty easy to get. These sites are usually run by an individual that rarely gets contacted by their audience.
Here is the proven formula to building relationships and links with niche bloggers…
Step One: Start by commenting on their blog posts.
Do not just go in there and post a bunch of comments all at once. Sign up to their feed or email updates so that you can get notified of their new posts. If they do not have one, then set up a Google alert. As soon as you see a new post is live, go in there and read it.
After that, you will want to make an intelligent comment with a compliment and a question. The compliment will build their confidence, which even long-term bloggers need. The question will create a conversation. After a few weeks of commenting, the blogger is going to know you by name.
Step Two: Identify Their Social Accounts and Begin Following Them
If the blogger has three different social media accounts, then follow one per week. This will allow them to see your name come across their notifications three separate times. After the initial follows, Twitter works best for long term engagement.
You can set up a Twitter list called “My Favorite Bloggers,” which will be used to add the Twitter accounts of every niche blogger that you are following. This will do two things. First, it will allow you to click on the list and see only tweets from the niche bloggers that you are trying to build relationships with. Secondly, the blogger will get notified via Twitter that they have been added to a Twitter list by you.
When I see someone add my Twitter account to a custom list I definitely take time to look at that person’s Twitter profile. It makes me feel even more special when the list is called, “My Favorite Podcasters.”
From that point on, click on your niche blogger Twitter list to review the latest tweets everyday. As you look through the most recent tweets, click the heart icon to favorite and also retweet some of these tweets. Each blogger is going to get a notification with every tweet that you favorite and retweet. I have over 60,000 followers, and I read every notification of a favorite, retweet, and mention. Now imagine the impact these actions will have on a niche blogger with 253 followers.
Step Three: Send Them a Question Via Email
A rookie mistake that most bloggers make is to attempt to start off the relationship with an email. These emails usually reek of someone wanting something from you. Most bloggers are used to getting shallow emails from people wanting them to post a link back to someone’s website. I get about 30 of these emails every week. These go straight to the trash.
You want to make the email the final step so that the blogger is be able to recognize your name when your email arrives. After several blog post comments and Twitter favorites with your name, they will be eager to read your email. If they are in your niche, then you will also have plenty to talk about. Some of the best email conversations with fellow bloggers in your niche will be about what you are struggling with. Once they open up about their biggest struggle as a blogger, then you can swoop in and reveal how you have had success in that area. At that point, they will be ripe and ready to pay you back with a link.
This may sound like a lot, but it only takes about 60 minutes of total time invested to get a link. With a Google update for commenting and a Twitter list for favoriting tweets, you will be able to batch all of your blogger engagements together and save a whole lot of time.
The great thing about this engagement process, is that it is real. After a year of doing this, you will not only have plenty of links, but you will have made friendships with people that share your passion.