Sustainable Link Building Through Relationships
Everyone is talking about creating ‘killer content’ in order to get shared online and talked about. What I’m here to tell you is that ‘killer content’ isn’t always the answer. What you should be focusing on is building long-term relationships that are likely to result in regular sharing of your material. Create content around topics that invoke conversation and trigger an emotional response from the people who view it. By doing this you will be able to sustain a flow of social shares for your content in the future and expand your total reach.
Link Building… You Mean Relationship Building?
One of the biggest problems with link building is the mindset that people get in when they embark upon it. If you get too wrapped up in trying to squeeze as much as you can from others then it can leave them feeling like the relationship is a bit one-sided. Add value to other peoples’ content and help them to achieve their objectives and you will most certainly reap the long-term benefits.
What I mean is that gaining a one-time link from a blog post you have written is great, but if you were to instead build a relationship with someone where they would share your content to their social following on a regular basis then this has more significant long-term benefits. When you start to plan any new content, ask yourself this question: How could someone else benefit from what I am about to create? Once you find an answer to this you will increase the likelihood that your content will shared to others.
Stay Social and Add Value to your Followers
Keeping a regular presence on social networks is one piece of advice that can benefit almost anyone trying to make an impact with their content. By this I don’t just mean going onto your Google+ once a week and clicking ‘+1’ on the first post in your feed. What I mean is to actively engage with people that you follow. Add value to what they are sharing by adding comments that could spark further conversation. Whenever anyone interacts with me over Twitter, Google+, etc, I make sure that I take a note of who it is so that I can reciprocate the favour in the future. I’m sure I’m not the only one that pays attention to this so it can pay dividends to simply interact with people.
Choosing the right people to follow is another very important part of maintaining a good social presence. Don’t just add anyone and everyone that is within your industry. Identify influential users that engage regularly with different users. Barry Feldman wrote a great article titled ‘Good Questions and Great Answers Amount to the Best Content‘ where he said:
“By actively listening (and seeing) the interactions taking place [on social networks], you gain the insights needed to make meaningful contributions to the conversation, earn a larger media footprint, and join the ranks of industry influencers.”
Finding Great Content and Influential Followers
Organisation is the key here. If you don’t use Google Reader already then today is the day to start! Every day I make sure that I dedicate a minimum of half an hour to looking through my RSS feeds in order to find great content to share with my followers and also find out what topics are hot at the moment. Whenever I see an interesting article, I find the social accounts of the author and follow them, and then I subscribe to the RSS feed of the blog. Here is a quick snapshot of my Google Reader, which you can see has been organised into different categories. This helps me to find articles related to the different users I am sharing content with.
By spending a couple of hours to initially organise your RSS feeds but I assure you that it will save you so much time in the long-term. If you’re struggling to find blogs that you want to follow then you can subscribe to the list of blogs (all related to SEO) that I follow by clicking the link below:
Try to make it a habit that you add the author of any content that you have enjoyed on Google+/Twitter/Facebook so that you can then leave them feedback and create conversation with them. Once you start building a rapport with different users it can be a good idea to start thinking back to that question I mentioned before; ‘How could someone else benefit from what I am about to create?’
Look at what topics other people are writing about and find a way of linking to their content and adding value to it. For example, if one of your followers has released a particularly interesting infographic, write a blog about it and express your own opinions on it or combine it with other data. Once you have done this, get in touch with the original author and I’m sure he would be more than happy to send some social signals your way. You can take a look at some of my favourite Google+ users from within the search industry by adding my shared circle below:
Another good article that I recently read from Paul Gailey titled, ‘Why you should follow the lowest of the low‘, gives a list of some influential users that you may like to follow, so check it out. Paul talks in his article about Inbound.org which, if you have never visited before, is a fantastic source of content from within the search industry and I would definitely recommend taking a look at it.
Social Share Acquisition
Once you have started following influential members from within your industry and have a constant feed of content that you can keep an eye on, it is time to start targeting specific users for ‘social share acquisition’. Moving away from the traditional link-acquisition targets, I believe that a much more fruitful benefit will come from looking to acquire social shares instead. How can you do this? This is how I typically begin:
- Identify people with a good social influence that regularly blog. To identify a person as ‘influential’, I look at the interaction on their posts, how frequently they post, the size of their social following and the influence of their followers.
- Look across the different social accounts, blogs, etc, that each of the people you have identified are members of. Take a look into what they are talking about and if there are any particular topics that they seem to be pushing at the moment.
- Find ways in which you could add value to their content. For example, you could use some data that they have recently gathered and turn it into a nice infographic or quote something that they have said within your content.
- Start interacting with the person(s) you have identified for a potential social share acquisition by commenting on their posts (with value-adding opinions) and sharing their content to your followers.
- Tailor a piece of content that could tie in a few of the different social share targets’ content (if possible). This could be done through quoting multiple people and using a variety of data sources.
- Contact them to let them know how you have added value to their content and simply ask them to share yours to their followers.