9 Pinterest Strategies to Make Your Pins Go Viral

Designing beautiful Pinterest images that are high-quality and visually look great is important, that’s for sure, however creating viral pins requires more effort than just creating beautiful images.

The visual aesthetics aren’t the only thing makes a pin go viral. The look of a pin is actually only part of the formula that makes it go viral on Pinterest or not.

Pinterest may be more known as a social media network for sharing recipe ideas, blog posts, and décor inspiration. But, the site also doubles as one of the biggest search engines on the web. Your posts on Pinterest – aka “Pins” – live up to 1,600 times longer than on Facebook or any other platform:

The site also drives more referral traffic than Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit combined. That’s a lot of organic traffic.

So, are you struggling to get a good amount of traffic from Pinterest, and need to know the secret to making viral pins?

Here are nine tried and tested Pinterest marketing strategies to create VIRAL pins

1. Optimize your name, boards and pins for Pinterest Search

Consider the importance of your business name when you start creating your Pinterest content. You want your business name to be long term and sustainable for your brand. Many branded companies make the mistake of using only their branded name for their Pinterest user account name. This is not ideal, as they lose out on people searching for them with other terms.

pinner search
Users search for Pinners when they are looking for specific brands and people to follow.

Add a descriptive keyword that you want to be associated with to the end of your business name to increase the chances of your Pinterest business account being found through a search for Pinners.

Put keywords in the titles of your Pinterest boards so other users can find them easily through the Boards search option.This doesn’t refer to the URL that Pinterest assigns you, but your “Business Name.” You can edit your business name by going to Settings, and then Edit Profile.

To increase the chances of showing up in Pins search results, include the keywords you want to be found for as early as possible in the description of your pin. How can you do this? To do this, find out which words people are using when they search for something on Pinterest. All you have to do is type words related to your industry in the search box and popular suggestions automatically pop up.

When I type in the word kitchen, autosuggestions like kitchen cabinets and kitchen décor pop up.

search term suggestions
Home Bunch’s pin of cream kitchen cabinets shows up in search results thanks to good use of keywords in the description.

Joining active group boards within your niche is also helpful. Group boards are often founded by active members with large Pinterest followings, with some luck and quality content, they’ll save your pins for their audience to look. This is a great way to attract eyeballs onto your content from Pinterest accounts larger than yours! Group boards are started and moderated by one account and then they can invite other Pinterest users to join the board and also pin to it. When so, done is invited to a board, it shows on their account and they can pin to the board.

Read more: Pinterest Tips: How to Successfully Create and Apply to Join Pinterest Group Boards

2. Use a scheduling tool

Pinterest can be a very powerful marketing platform, but it takes a lot of time and effort to follow the suggested 10-15 pins per day. And the easiest way we’ve found to do so is by scheduling Pins into a queue so that there’s always fresh content on deck. By far, the most helpful tool for scheduling and analytics has been Tailwind.

Tailwind is a complete Pinterest management tool with some pretty neat analytics options. In addition to scheduling and the standard stats, you can analyze your competitors, see trending pints, top repinners, and your most influential followers.

Tailwind review

Tailwind also has three unique built in features that can save you a lot of time when creating and scheduling pins:

  1. You can group themed boards into global boards for one-time, multi-board pinning: This feature lets you pin to one global board, and it’ll also go to lots of other individual boards assigned to it with one click. Thus, the global boards through Tailwind will be titled “boards” to distinguish them from standard Pinterest boards.
  2. The ability to space out those group pins in your chosen intervals to prevent redundancy: In this case, if you have 7 boards in a global board, the same pin can be pinned over a certain period of once a day, once every other day, etc.
  3. Your pin deck can be shuffled around while keeping the interval pins above locked in place at a given time: This feature allows you to upload up to 1,000 pins into your queue, click a button to randomize all of them, but still keep the interval pins in the bullet above locked in your chosen schedule.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that although Tailwind now has Instagram scheduling and publishing feature, most of the features are channeled towards Pinterest, and that’s the network we’ll focus more on for this Tailwind review and tutorial.

Pro tip: Create a free Tailwind account and start joining tribes to share your content and receive Pin saves from others within your niche! Let us know how you like Tailwind in the comments.

3. Create pin worthy images

I believe that this is the best way to get your pins re-pinned. Yes, content is king, and it’s super important to have quality content. However, on Pinterest no one is going to see your content right away. The first thing they will see is your image. The fact is that people like to pin visually attractive images. Every time you create a post, you should make sure you have at least one pin worthy image. Here are some tips for creating a pinnable image:

  • The image should have the post title placed on it you, with your blogs URL at the bottom of the image (just like the image in this post). You can use a free online photo editor such as PicMonkey to edit your images.
  • The image should be vertical. Vertical images stand out really nicely on Pinterest. I recommend a minimum size of 700px in width by 800px in height. You can always go larger, but I wouldn’t go smaller than that.
  • Use real photos – pins that use real photos as a background will get more traction than ones that use text over a plain background
  • Use light and visually appealing colors (think light blue, pink, or yellow) rather than neutrals or dark colors
  • Keep your pins under 5000 pixels high – the taller the pin is, the harder it is for pinners to repin it
  • Use catchy titles. Which pin are you most likely to re-pin? “How I Got More Traffic to My Blog” or “How I Doubled my Blog Traffic in 30 days” — I know I’m more likely to pin the second option. People are drawn to catchy titles, so make your titles catchy!

Tip: If you have older posts that you think deserve more pins, there’s nothing wrong with re-working the images used in the post. I’ve actually re-worked most of the images in my past posts so they’re more Pinterest friendly.

Read more: The 23 Best Pinterest Marketing Tools To Empower Your Pinterest Account

4. Re-pin useful content and old pins

It’s a fact that not every one of your followers is going to see all of your pins. That’s why it’s important to repin previous pins from weeks and even months ago.

If you’re gaining new followers fast, this tactic will help them discover great content from the past that’s buried under your other pins.

This is especially helpful for offline retail businesses because repinning old pins reminds people of products they may have forgotten about. According to a study done by Vision Critical, when participants were asked how Pinterest affected their in-store purchases, 17% responded, “It reminded me that I intended to buy that item.”

People usually pin their post once, and never go back to it. You want to make sure you are pinning your post multiple times. I recommend pinning your post to multiple boards that are similar to that pin.

I even recommend waiting a week or two, and going back and pinning your post all over again. I know some people may be against pinning to multiple boards because they think it’s annoying. To that I say, pop-up sign up boxes are annoying to some people, but they are proven to work. Pinning to multiple boards may be annoying to some people, but it works.

5. Find the optimal timing for your Pinterest posts

Once you pin an image or video, it’s immediately posted to your followers’ “New” pages. After that, you have a very short window of time for it to go viral on Pinterest. Some say as little as 20-30 minutes.

Does that mean hope is lost if your image doesn’t immediately go viral?

Well, not entirely. Your pins do stay visible on your pinboards, and occasionally one of them will get picked up by another user and may even get repinned a few times, sending you a small stream of traffic.

Still, the difference is huge. Compared to the amount of people who will see your image when it’s new, the number of people who will bother to pick through your old pins is much lower.

So, you need to think strategically about timing. Maximize your time in the Pinterest spotlight by pinning your images when the greatest number of people will see them.

For most niches, that’s between 6 AM and 6 PM, Eastern time, but again, that’s just a rule of thumb. The smart strategy is to look at your traffic stats for your own blog to see when you consistently get the most traffic, and then plan to pin during those times, because that’s when your audience is surfing the web and most likely to spread the word.

The bad news?

There’s not really a way to automate it yet. Until Pinterest releases its API to developers, it’s not possible to develop a pin scheduling tool, so you’ve got to be online and pinning during those Pinterest “peak times.” Sorry.

6. Join and pin to group boards

Remember, consistency is the key with Pinterest: if you pin new content to Pinterest once a day, you’ll gain new followers, and your Pinterest platform will grow. And the bigger your Pinterest platform is, the more people will click on links to your blog posts when you pin them (and the more traffic you will get from Pinterest). Group boards are a great way to share your pins and have them re-pinned. Find a group board related to your niche and ask to join. Instructions for joining the group board can usually be found in the boards description.

Pinners love new and original content, just like other social media users. So, instead of just repinning tired images from other users, find new stuff on the web to pin.

Tip: PinGroupie is a great directory for finding group boards related to your blogging niche.

Read more: Pinterest Tips: How to Successfully Create and Apply to Join Pinterest Group Boards

7. Collect and curate awesome Pinterest content

Your job on Pinterest is to gather and display awesome content in your niche – and that makes you a curator.

In the real world, professional curators gather, organize and display items for museums and galleries. Your job as an online curator is to do the same thing for your virtual audience.

Being a Pinterest curator means you pick the best images and then organize them in an interesting way that benefits your core audience. In other words, you cherry-pick all the best images related to your topic and pin them to your boards.

If you do a good job, it’ll help you build your authority, and people will eventually look to you as the go-to source for cool images on your topic. When that happens, you can bet they’ll come back to you again and again, giving you lots of chances to tell them about your blog.

So get the goods. And then pin the goods. Because when you’re a great curator, your audience will grow exponentially.

8. Sponsor legit Pinterest giveaways and contests

You can overdo contests on Pinterest, just as you can on other social media sites. And some folks may criticize you for “buying” followers using contests.

But I think you can run a Pinterest contest that doesn’t suck. Done well, contests on Pinterest can create buzz for your business AND be exciting and interesting for contest participants, too.

To run a contest that doesn’t suck:

  • Ask your followers and readers to create pinboards based on a theme you select. Harrod’s department store in London recently held a contest that asked their readers to create storefront ideas based on the theme of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee this summer. Better Homes and Gardens also ran a similar “Dream House” contest for their Pinterest followers.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t ask contest participants to do five different things in order to enter. Make it a two-step process: Create a board, and tell you about that board (whether it’s on Twitter, email, or blog comment)
  • Make sure you spell out the rules clearly on your blog. Then link to that blog post on a dedicated contest Pinterest board.
  • Open and close your contest on time.
  • Make a really big deal of announcing the winner. You want that person to get lots of good press, so publish the winner’s board on your blog, talk about it on Twitter and Facebook, and make a big fuss about it on Pinterest. The more you publicize your contest AND the winner, the more people will likely participate in your next contest.
  • Don’t do contests too often. Once or twice a year is plenty.

9.  Write high quality keyword descriptions

When you upload your image, you will want to make sure that the “alt-text” wording is where you place your keyword descriptions.  This is the default which is pulled onto the pin when shared by anyone who visits your site.

Making sure that you have the right keywords is important because it will help your pins come up through search. Also, most people will not edit your descriptions, ensuring that what you want your pin to say will remain intact.  For instance, you would not way “pizza dough recipe” for your description.

Instead, say “This is the ONLY recipe you’ll ever need for authentic, thin and crispy, Italian homemade pizza dough – naturally vegan and dairy-free, and just 5 ingredients needed!”

The second one contains many more of the keywords under which this pin will now be found.

Your pin description should match the blog post title, which can also help with a lot of your link building efforts. Pinterest wants users to have a good experience. When they click your pin image to open up the article, they want the article to live up to the expectations the user has for the link they are opening. The content of the pin should match the content of the landing page or blog article.

Read more: Pinterest Monthly Views: What Does it Mean?

There you’ve got it! The things you will need to do to try to help your pin take off and go viral!  If you have had this happen for you, please let me know – I’d love to help give you a little more pinning love myself!

Pinterest Monthly Views: What Does it Mean?

Pinterest may be more known as a social media network for sharing recipe ideas, blog posts, and décor inspiration. But, the site also doubles as one of the biggest search engines on the web.

If your Pinterest content isn’t optimized for Pinners’ searches, you may be missing out. Keywords are building blocks for search engine optimization—and Pinterest is basically a visual search engine.

Using the right Pinterest keywords will help your content reach the right audience.

There are a few ways to do keyword research on Pinterest, like using guided search to see automatic suggestions or drawing inspiration from hashtags. 

In the last few years, Pinterest has become one of the top sources of social traffic for marketers, especially those running ecommerce sites. And that’s because, unlike other social media networks, Pinterest is a visual search engine.

Your posts on Pinterest – aka “Pins” – live up to 1,600 times longer than on Facebook or any other platform:

pin shelf life

Why you should ignore monthly views

Do you get excited when the number goes up? Or, perhaps you are wondering why your numbers are so low compared to other pinners?

You know what? Stop worrying! It’s just a vanity stat.

It’s common to see 1 million monthly viewers on a Pinterest profile. Sounds pretty impressive, n’est-ce pas? Unfortunately, 1 million monthly viewers DO NOT convert into 1 million visits to my website, or email subscribers. If it gave me a teeny weeny 0.01% conversion rate of 100 Pinterest coaching sessions sold every month, I would be VERY happy. Is this happening? Nope.

So, what does this number actually mean?

The number of monthly unique viewers is simply the number of times any of the pins you shared appear in a Pinterest feed. Whether people click on it or not. In fact, they may not even see your pin in the stream of pins they scroll through on their screen. It is also important to note that it does not only include views of your own content, but it also includes content you have saved from other sites.

A high number of monthly viewers is, of course, extremely flattering. It looks good and gives you “street cred”. It’s an indication that Pinterest is showing your content in people’s Pinterest feeds. If nothing else, a high number of monthly views is a sign that your content is consistently being shown for certain keywords. So, if this is you, you’re probably doing a great job of key-wording your pins!

However, a high number of monthly views is absolutely meaningless if they are not generating traffic to your website. After all, the purpose of distributing your content on Pinterest is to get more business! If people are seeing your pins but are not clicking on them or sharing them, then you need to modify your Pinterest tactics.

READ MORE

Instead of fretting over your monthly unique viewers, take a look at your website data in Pinterest Analytics each month. A good KPI to look at is the number of clicks and saves a pin is generating. Let me explain.

Why Your Business Should Use Pinterest SEO

Although it is often lumped in with social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest is actually a visual search engine. Yes, you can share images on Pinterest like you do on Instagram and Facebook, and it will refer traffic to your site. However, the way people use Pinterest and the way the algorithm delivers content is very different.

Here are some Pinterest statistics that should make you sit up and take notice of the platform:

  • As of the Q4 2019, Pinterest has more than 335 million monthly active users
  • 90% of weekly pinners have used Pinterest to make a purchase
  • 40% of Pinterest users have a household income of $100,000
  • 45% of all women online are Pinterest users
  • 50% of new signups are men
  • Two-thirds of all pins represent brands or products
  • 73% of pinners say content from brands makes Pinterest more useful
  • 93% of users use Pinterest to plan purchases
  • 55% of users shop on the site
  • 34% of Americans ages 18 to 34 use Pinterest
  • Pinterest images reach 83% of US women ages 25-54
  • There were 600 million Pinterest Lens searches in February 2018
  • 59% of millenials have discovered products on Pinterest

(Sources: StatistaVentureBeatHootsuite and Hootsuite)

People use Pinterest to plan moments in their lives and to research products and ideas to improve their lives. Much of Pinterest’s content is aspirational. People use it like a dream board of things they want to do and accomplish in their lives, personally and professionally. They are looking for products or services to fill their lifestyle and professional needs and enjoy viewing the images on Pinterest to get ideas and learn about trends. Given the way people use Pinterest to search and shop, most every business should investigate using Pinterest to expand their reach online.

Tailwind – the best free tool to grow your Pinterest following and monthly viewers

Tailwind is a scheduling tool that is usually considered to be one of the best in the industry. This amazing Pinterest tool has ample functions that let you go in and schedule pins in bulk to be published over a set pinning calendar.

With Tailwind, you can:

  • Easily upload images
  • Schedule your pins at the best time
  • Measure and analyze the performance of your pins
  • Reach new audiences via Tailwind Tribes

Additionally, there are three basic things we love about Tailwind:

  1. You can group themed boards into global boards for one-time, multi-board pinning: This feature lets you pin to one global board, and it’ll also go to lots of other individual boards assigned to it with one click. Thus, the global boards through Tailwind will be titled “boards” to distinguish them from standard Pinterest boards.
  2. The ability to space out those group pins in your chosen intervals to prevent redundancy: In this case, if you have 7 boards in a global board, the same pin can be pinned over a certain period of once a day, once every other day, etc.
  3. Your pin deck can be shuffled around while keeping the interval pins above locked in place at a given time: This feature allows you to upload up to 1,000 pins into your queue, click a button to randomize all of them, but still keep the interval pins in the bullet above locked in your chosen schedule.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that although Tailwind now has Instagram scheduling and publishing feature, most of the features are channeled towards Pinterest, and that’s the network we’ll focus more on for this Tailwind review and tutorial.

Try Tailwind for FREE and receive 100 free pins and access to join Tailwind Tribes

Pro tip: Create a free Tailwind account and start joining tribes to share your content and receive Pin saves from others within your niche! Let us know how you like Tailwind in the comments.

What to look for in Pinterest Analytics

Head over to Pinterest Analytics and take a look at some different monthly figures for your website:

How to access Pinterest Analytics

Consider the following when taking a look at your Pinterest website analytics:

  • Which are the Top Pin impressions from the last 30 days?
  • How many are generating clicks to your website?
  • How many are being saved/shared by other pinners?

This is the kind of data you should be looking at to help you evaluate your ROI on Pinterest.

Image - Top Pin Impressions last 30 days
Export the data and calculate the click-through, save and engagement rates as in example below:
Image - calculate engagement rates

How to Calculate Marketing Metrics

  • Click-through rate = Clickthroughs / Impresssions
  • Save rate = Saves / Impressions
  • Engagement rate = (Clickthroughs + Saves) / Impressions 

Identify the highest converting pins. Notice that pins that perform well are not necessarily those that get the highest number of impressions. Another interesting point to note is that for some pins the clickthrough rate is considerably higher than the save rate and vice versa.

Possible Explanations

  • Click-through rate is higher than Save rate: The image catches people’s attention, but content may not correspond to their expectations. The pinner decides not to save it. Or, perhaps the pinner was just curious and never really intended to save the pin. You may want to try modifying the message on your pin, so that there is no expectation mismatch.
  • Save rate is higher than Clickthrough rate: People are less tempted to click on this content. Instead, they save it. My guess is that this is inspirational content, where people are looking for ideas and collecting them for future reference, without necessarily clicking through to your website.

The Top Pin Impressions report gives you a good idea which of your pins resonate with your Pinterest audience. You should regularly check this data to check how your pins are doing and adjust your tactics whenever necessary. Identify which of your own pins are most popular. You could share these more often. Consider creating new images for existing blog articles, to give them a fresh look and feel and share them again.

Go to your Profile’s (not website) Top Pin Impressions. Do you only see other people’s pins here? Take a closer look and try to identify why they are doing so well. Is it possible to apply this to your own pinning strategy? 

Are you using the right keywords, so that your pins turn up in the desired search results?

You can also benchmark this type of data over a much longer period of historical data. Simply select a larger date range and export the data for further analysis:

Image - Selecting a wider date range for impressions

Get down to the detail in Google Analytics

The Top Pin Impressions from the last 30 days provides you with a list of the 50 pins with the highest number of impressions over the last month, i.e. the highest number of “appearances” in Pinterest feeds or search results. However, this does not provide you with the full picture. For that, Google Analytics is a mine of information to help you analyse how Pinterest is driving traffic to your website. There is so much information that it can be a bit overwhelming. You can start by looking at the following reports:

  • Acquisition > Social to look at number of sessions generated by Pinterest. A session is a given time frame during which a user is active on your website (e.g. browse pages, download resources, etc). What percentage is this of the total traffic you get on your website?
  • Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals gives you more detailed information such as new users and average number of pages viewed during a session. It also shows you which Pinterest feeds are sending you traffic (pinterest.com, pinterest.ca, pinterest.co.uk, pinterest.fr,…) If you are targeting a specific territory, this is interesting to know.
  • Acquisition > Social > Landing Pages > At the top of the table, add “Source” as a Secondary Dimension to the report. You now have a list of your most popular web site pages and the source that sent this traffic to your site. 

Rather than closely observing the number of monthly unique viewers on your Pinterest page, analyse the actual traffic Pinterest is sending to your web site. So, whether your monthly viewer number is high or low, it is important to understand that this is NOT a good measure of your success. Instead you should…

  • Regularly check actual traffic via Analytics on Pinterest and Google.
  • Check Pinterest Analytics to see which pins bring in most traffic.
  • Check the keywords for your pins and update if necessary.
  • Share more of what’s working.
  • Create new images for existing blog articles.
  • Learn from successful pins.

Understanding Pinterest

Pinterest’s Head of Product Marketing, Sarah Hoople Shere, chatted with Alisa Meredith of Tailwind, sharing their latest updates and answering viewers’ questions. Hearing how Pinterest works directly from a key insider helps us understand how the search engine serves up content. According to Shere, Pinterest is investing more resources to serve content creators and help them optimize their use of the platform.

How Pinterest Serves Up Content

Besides being shown to people who follow you, how do people find your pins? Shere explained Pinterest SEO and best practices for getting found on the search engine.

Here’s how your content gets distributed on Pinterest. When you pin an image, it gets shown to your followers first. Through the following tab, that happens more quickly than it did in the past. From there, Pinterest can gauge how well the pin performs and then show it to others through searches and recommended pins in their home feed. Shere noted that if you pin an image to more than one board, pin it to the most relevant board first. The pin from the first board will get shown to your followers.

Shere’s number 1 piece of advice is to make sure the pin is engaging and relevant to your followers. They are the ones that will give the signal that it’s a good piece of content that should be distributed more broadly. Her second piece of advice is to follow universal SEO best practices to make sure it’s relevant to other pinners that might be interested in it.

The People You Follow Tab

Pinterest has an option to navigate from your default Smart Feed to show pins from people you follow. This option to view pins in your “people you follow” feed (also known as the Following tab) gives the user more control over what they see in their feed. You’ll see the first few pins from people you follow, in reverse chronological order. If you’ve been using Pinterest for a few years, you’ll remember that you used to see pins from those you follow as your default.

Pinterest home feed and following feed

You can think of this as Pinterest’s way of helping the platform be more social in that users have the option to view pins from people they know and follow – friends, bloggers, and businesses. It’s refreshing when you consider the changes to Instagram and Facebook and their algorithms which serve up content they “think” we want to see based on their algorithms.

As a content creator, this is a great way to get your content in front of people who follow you. Post consistently, and your followers will begin to recognize your pins and feel more connected to your brand over time.

Consistency Over Volume

Shere explains that there’s no such thing as pinning too much. However, she advises that they prefer consistency over volume. It’s better to pin 5 images each day than to pin 15 on Monday and another 15 on Friday.

In the event that pinners do pin a ton of pins at one time, they’ve accounted for that with their new algorithm. In your followers’ feed, they will publish the first 5 pins that you post that day; then they will show 5 pins from someone else that your follower follows as long as those accounts have pinned that day, etc. Then further down the feed, they will show your next 5 pins after content from other accounts that your followers follow.

When Does a New Day Start on Pinterest?

When you’re figuring out when new pins for that day will start to show up in your followers’ feeds, you need to know that the new day starts at midnight UTC (which is 8pm EST.) That’s when the “first 5 pins of the day” will show up in your followers’ Following tab.

Comments Will be Unified Per URL

In the past, pins with comments and photo tries were published underneath each instance of that pin, if it was pinned directly from the website. Now, they have consolidated comments into one stream. This shows that a pin has greater engagement than if the comments were spread out among several different pins from that one URL.

They’ve also added the ability to like and reply to comments. Pinterest is attempting to be more “social” by giving users new ways to engage with content. The comments and the “tried it” feature are great for content creators since they provide social proof that an idea is helpful or that it works.

Time of Day Doesn’t Matter, but…

Shere explained that the time of day that you pin doesn’t matter. However, the first 5 pins that you save each day will get the most reach. You may notice that your audience tends to engage more during a certain time of day. Watch your analytics to determine when that is, and then post those first 5 pins of the day at that time.

Essential Elements of Pinterest SEO

Keyword Rich Descriptions

The most important place to use keywords is in your descriptions. Think about what your audience searches for on Pinterest. Use those keywords in your descriptions, with variations of the keyword phrase. Include keywords about the pin as well as keywords around the theme of your pin. A good example of a keyword rich description is: “This chocolate fondue recipe is great for your next chocolate-themed birthday party and will have chocolate dessert lovers begging for more.” Great Pinterest descriptions include very specific topical keywords as well as broader search terms. You want to avoid keyword stuffing though so that your description is natural and engaging.

You can do quick keyword research within Pinterest by typing in a core keyword in the search bar. Similar to the way Google recommends keywords, Pinterest will recommend keywords under your search query. This will give you an idea of keywords that pinners are searching for.

Screenshot (213)

If you click on one of the suggested search terms, you can drill down further and discover related keywords and themes that you can use in your content and your pin descriptions.

Screenshot (214)

Your pin description should match the blog post title, which can also help with a lot of your link building efforts. Pinterest wants users to have a good experience. When they click your pin image to open up the article, they want the article to live up to the expectations the user has for the link they are opening. The content of the pin should match the content of the landing page or blog article.

To increase click-throughs to your website, direct readers where to go by using calls to action. Ask them to click to read the article or click to see the recipe. Also be sure to include your URL in the description and in the URL field when pinning new content.

Effective Pin Images

The optimal ratio is 2:3, or 600×900 pixels. If you go taller than that, your pin may get lower distribution and may get cut off in the app. Squares also work, but vertical pins work better because you’re getting more space in the feed.

Regarding the content of the pin image, users are looking for help contextualizing the information. Using lifestyle images, tasteful branding, and limited helpful text which hints at the original content is suggested. Tasteful branding is adding a little brand awareness to your pin, including a small logo or URL and on-brand colors. It ensures that as your pin is distributed over time, that your branding isn’t lost (especially if pinners change the description of the pin) and people can always try to go back to the original source. URLs or logos are best placed in the bottom or top center of the image.

Pin Fresh Content

A brand new pin, whether it’s from a new article or an old article, is considered fresh content. Your followers will want to see fresh content from you. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a scheduling tool or pinning natively on Pinterest, all content is treated the same. If you’re using a scheduling application, you don’t need to worry that your content will be served up less frequently.

Other Places for Keywords

Use keywords in your profile, board titles, and board descriptions. Cover all of the ways someone might be looking for your pins, your boards, and a person like you. Include keyword-related hashtags.

Yes, Pinterest now supports hashtags. When users search by hashtag, the pins are served in reverse chronological order. So, fresh pins appear at the top of the search. Pinterest has found that pins with hashtags do get more distribution the first day they are pinned. You can add up to 20 relevant hashtags to a pin description. Focus on semantic hashtags – general themes that people will search for. Pinners search for hashtags and click on hashtags within pin descriptions, so they are using hashtags to discover fresh content both ways.

READ MORE

Direct Pins vs. Repins

If you’re wondering which holds more weight, having your image pinned directly from your website or re-pinned, there isn’t much of a difference in how Pinterest evaluates the pin’s engagement. You want both as they both signal to the algorithm that the pin has value to those looking for ideas about your pin’s topic. Both direct pins and repins will help your pin show up in search and as a recommended pin in the home feed.

Focus on Analytics

Use analytics to determine what pins are most engaging and relevant to your audience and make adjustments. You’ll need a business account to view your analytics. You will also want to claim your website on Pinterest and embed the code on your site, as well as enable rich pins.

Underperforming Pins

A common question among Pinterest users is, “Should I delete underperforming pins?” Shere’s answer is “no.” Pins with a low number of repins will not hurt your other pins’ chances of being distributed. She also advises that an underperforming pin that doesn’t do well initially may gain traction later on. There’s no value in spending time deleting underperforming pins.

Tips for Getting More Followers

Followers are a small portion of the people you reach on Pinterest. In your new business profile, check out the number of followers you have and your total reach. Most of your pin distribution takes place with people who discover your content (through searches and their home feed) and aren’t yet followers.

Now that users have the following tab and can more easily view pins from people they follow, content creators may want to focus on creating content their followers will engage with. As mentioned before, engagement from your followers will signal to Pinterest that your pin should be distributed to more people. Shere advises that the quality of your followers is more important than the number of followers. It’s better to have a low number of highly engaged followers than a large number of followers that rarely engage.

To build your followers, Pinterest is rolling out features to help recommend you to pinners who like your type of content. To help Pinterest recognize that you are a high-quality content creator and that they should recommend you to pinners, make sure you have a business account, claim your website, pin regularly, and have an optimized profile and keyword rich board descriptions.

Other steps to draw followers to your account include:

  • Having a Pinterest follow button on your website
  • Make sure your followers on other channels know you are on Pinterest and give them a link to follow you
  • Embed the pin in your blog post and ask your readers to indicate that they’ve tried it by leaving a photo comment on the pin
  • Join Pinterest boards
  • Start your own board and invite people
  • Use compelling images and infographics to create a brand identity
  • Follow your competitor’s followers
  • Optimize your profile name with keywords

Everything You Need to Know About Search Engine Optimization (The Ultimate Beginner Guide 2020)

Organic traffic and search engine optimization (SEO) go hand in hand. But how exactly can you provide bountiful returns for all the hours you’ve spent writing content? By optimizing. Optimize content, optimize keywords, and optimize strategy. SEO is a constantly changing game, and the best practices used a year ago today are not always the best practices now.

We intend to give you a concise, in-depth overview of what SEO is, why it is important, how Google functions, and a guide to what you can do. This article is not a definitive guide to every aspect and subtlety of SEO — search engine optimization. This is a vast subject that cannot be fully covered in a single article, but we will do our best to give you the overview of SEO.

Definition of SEO

SEO is the art and science of persuading search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, to recommend your content to their users as the best solution to their problem. SEO refers to the improvement of unpaid results and excludes direct traffic and the purchase of paid placement. This is done by growing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. There are three types of SEO practices that are commonly spoken about: White hat SEO, Black hat SEO, and Grey hat SEO.

Learn more about them in our recent posts explaining each type of SEO:

If you want search engines to offer your content in results, you need to do three things:

  1. Ensure these search engines understand who you are and what you offer.
  2. Convince them that you are the most credible option for their users.
  3. Make your content deliverable.

How high in the rankings and how often you appear is merit-based; these engines will show the results they consider to be the best fit for their users.

Not to be mistaken with SEM

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the practice of marketing a business using paid advertisements that appear on search engine results pages. This is usually done when advertisers bid on keywords that users of services such as Google and Bing might enter when looking for certain products or services. Advertisers then have the opportunity for their ads to appear alongside results for those search queries.

What is the difference between SEO and SEM?

These two terms are commonly associated with each other. While both skills require a lot of similar fundamentals, the main difference stems from cost.

Generally, “search engine marketing” refers to paid search marketing, a system where businesses pay Google to show their ads in the search results.

SEO is different because businesses don’t pay Google for traffic and clicks; rather, they earn a free spot in in the search results by having the most relevant content for a given keyword search.

Both SEO and SEM should be fundamental parts of your online marketing strategy. SEO is a powerful way to drive evergreen traffic at the top of the funnel, while search engine advertisements are a highly cost-effective way to drive conversions at the bottom of the funnel.

Why is SEO important? 

Search Engine Optimization brings you the most precious traffic (also known as organic traffic), which is “free” — when a search engine shows your content to its users in the organic part of a SERP (Search Engine Results Page), you do not pay for the ranking. When the user clicks on the result and visits your site, you do not pay Google for a visit. And that briefly describes what is SEO used for.

How to Mine Your Blog for More Keyword Rankings & Traffic with ...

On that same SERP, there are often paid results; they are identifiable by the ‘Ad’ icon to the left. When a user clicks on a paid result and visits the site, the advertiser pays the search engine for that visit.

So for ads, you pay to be the top, front, and center, and with organic search results (“SEO results”, if you prefer), you are top, front, and center through merit, and it is free.

The big advantage of SEO traffic is that, if chosen Search Engine Optimization strategy is effective (and we will look at how to make that happen below), then it is an ongoing source of free traffic.

How Search Engines Work 

The fundamental aim of search engines is to satisfy its users. They want to provide the best results when a user searches for something. When someone uses a search engine, such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo, they are looking for the solution to a problem or the answer to a question. These engines want to provide the most helpful, relevant, and credible answer or solution.

Keywords

In SEO, we often refer to ‘keywords’ — this is slightly misleading. ‘Search queries’ is a much better term. We are not looking at individual words; we are looking at combinations of words that express a problem or a question.

Note: even when a user searches with just one word, they are still expressing a problem or question — they are just not being very clear! 

What is your audience searching for?

To work effectively on your SEO, you need to figure out what your potential customers are searching for. Find the phrases that they use to search, and then create content that brings a clear, simple, and helpful solution to the problem that the user expressed. SEMrush offers a tool that allows you to find out based on your market and your competitors. 

Keyword Magic Tool by SEMrush

Google Versus the Rest of the Search Engines

Google dominates search in most countries across the globe, almost to the point of being a monopoly, particularly in English. In English, worldwide, 88% of searches on desktop are on Google. On mobile, that figure is a whopping 96%. Bing and Yahoo combined account for 1.5% of searches on mobile and 8% of searches on desktop. That makes Google vastly dominant. And by far, the most important search engine you should be focusing on.

most popular search engine in the world

So, as a business with a website, your reliance on Google is pretty much a given. Great SEO is not an option. It is a necessity.

How Google Works

Google says, “we are organizing the content of the web.” That is a lovely way of putting it. Google organizes the content of the web to be able to deliver to its users the best answer to their question or solution to their problem. You can look at this as Google being a reference system for all the information on the web. It keeps references to every page (and the information it contains), and then when someone asks for specific information, Google can point them to the content that best supplies the answer or solution. 

It is very helpful to approach SEO from the perspective that you are providing solutions to Google’s users, and you are asking it to recommend your solution. 

Google is striving to recommend the most relevant answer from the most trustworthy source in the most appropriate format for its user. So consider the following when you are writing your content, and ensure that it is:

  • Relevant – Google aims to match the best answer to the question it has understood. That is relevancy in a nutshell.
  • Trustworthy -Google wants to send its users to content from a source it is confident will satisfy its user — a credible brand or person it trusts.
  • Consumable – This is an awful word, and I apologize, but Google wants to send its users to the kind of content they want to engage with, in a format they can consume. 

Matching User Intent to Truly Useful Content

So here are two things Google needs to match. On one side, user intent: when someone searches on Google, they are expressing a problem they need a solution to. But they often express that problem incompletely or ambiguously. Google tries to understand what they mean. What is their intent? What is the specific problem they are trying to solve? Google needs to understand the question or the intent. We will look at that in more detail a little bit later.

On the other side, what is the best content to satisfy the user, given their intent — the most accurate and most helpful and useful content on the world wide web that reliably solves that problem? Google needs to understand the available solutions, their relative merits, and their appropriateness. And this is what SEO is practically about. SEO is your means to present your content to Google in such a way that it is confident that your solution is the most helpful, the most trustworthy, and the most appropriate for their user. In short, convince Google to recommend your answer or solution.

Google’s Algorithm

The word “algorithm” can seem scary, but it is simply a computer code that understands the question and evaluates the relative merits of the answers. In SEO, we are mostly focused on the second part. We aim to send the right signals to Google’s algorithm to convince it that our answer is the best, most useful, and most appropriate for the question it has understood.

Google Updates

You have certainly heard about Google’s updates. The most famous are Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird. It is very essential to understand several things:

  1. Google is constantly updating its algorithm on a daily basis. But most of these updates are small and won’t lead to noticeable changes in ranking or traffic for individual brands like yours.
  2. From time to time, Google implements major updates. These can affect your site’s rankings and traffic quite drastically.
  3. Some updates in the past were specifically aimed at reducing the impact of cheating by some brands and websites. It gave these updates names — Panda (related to the quality of content) and Penguin (about quality of links) are famous examples.
  4. Today, Google announces most major updates, and you can find those announcements on Twitter via @searchliaison.

Machine Learning in Google’s Algorithm

As the name suggests, “Machine learning is functionality that helps software perform a task without explicit programming or rules.” Google gives some examples of tasks machine learning may perform: 

  • Personalize product recommendations based on customer behavior
  • Look for keywords in massive numbers of text documents
  • Enable software to accurately respond to voice commands

Machine Learning at Google

RankBrain and BERT are the most famous machine learning updates. Rank Brain is a machine-learning artificial intelligence system Google uses to help sort through its search results. BERT is a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP), and it stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. It is used to understand the nuances and context of words within searches, and it helps provide better matches to the queries with more relevant results.

Quality Raters

Google has thousands of quality raters, and they are used to help improve the search experience. According to Google, “quality raters are spread out across the world and are highly trained.” Google is always experimenting with search results, and they use feedback from third-party search quality raters to make sure changes are useful.

So what are the raters looking for when they are analyzing the results? Let’s find out.

Quality Rater Guidelines

Quality Raters are considered “highly trained” because they are expected to follow a very long and detailed document — 168 pages as of January 2020 to be exact — that explains what constitutes a good result and what raters should look for to identify bad results. The document is worth reading because it sets out what content Google wants to serve its users and how Google judges the fit-for-purpose content quality. It does not tell us what the ranking factors/signals are or exactly how the algorithm works (more on that later).

Google's guideline for page quality

These guidelines are updated frequently.

Here is a brief overview of what Google raters are looking for to identify quality content (and by extension, this is an overview of what you should aim to achieve).

Intent of the Query

When looking at the results, the raters stay focused on the intent of the user — the problem they are aiming to find the solution to. So they are asking themselves, “Is this result a good solution, and does it help the user?” If Google is to recommend particular content as a solution, that content must have beneficial value to the user in the search for a solution to their problem. The content must be user-centered and user-focused. 

Credibility Signals (known as E-A-T).

Google uses the acronym E-A-T — Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness — which could also be expressed globally as credibility. They are judging credibility or E-A-T at three levels — the page, the author, and the website. Furthermore, they are looking to see if the content is credible in the context of the solution it aims to provide. 

E-A-T is incredibly essential to Google; in the guidelines, they use the words expert, authority, and trust (or variants) over 200 times.

Let’s look briefly at each component of E-A-T.

  • Expertise – Is the information accurate? Should this writer or brand write about this topic?
  • Authoritativeness – Is the author well-respected in their field? Is the brand widely recognized in the industry? Is the content referred to elsewhere on the web by other authoritative websites, brands, and people?
  • Trustworthiness – Do the brand and the writer have a good reputation and is the content reliable? 

YMYL Pages

YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life. It is a very important concept for quality raters. As Google explains in guidelines, this term describes pages or topics that “could potentially impact a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.” Here is a list of such topics:

YMYL Pages classification

Google claims to have “very high Page Quality standards” for such pages because low-quality YMYL content can directly affect readers’ well-being.

Quality of the Content, Page, and Site

Google wants to send its users to websites that give a great user experience (UX). The raters look carefully at the quantity and quality of the content, the user-friendliness of the design, and the navigation of the site.

The raters also identify explicitly bad content — they will flag content that is low quality, or has no credibility, or is outright misleading. Google aims to exclude this type of content since it does not give a good user experience for their users.

Here is a screenshot of the quality scale they use:

page quality rating tasks

Google Ranking Factors 

Google’s algorithm takes thousands and thousands of signals into account when evaluating a page to determine where it should rank for a specific user query. 

When we talk about ranking factors, we are simply identifying which groups of signals have the most influence on how well a piece of content will perform in Google search.

From your perspective, we are identifying which aspects of your content, website, and reputation you can improve to most effectively boost Google’s opinion of your content, and thus gain a higher position in the search results. 

Here are the main Search Engine Optimization factors you need to get right to help your content to rank higher in Google (there are more than 200, so we have only detailed the most important ones in this guide).

On-Page Search Engine Optimization

As the name implies, on-page signals are those that Google finds on the page of your website. They are the aspects that you control directly, and so the easiest to get right. 

Technical Search Engine Optimization

  • Speed – People don’t like to wait, so Google wants to send its users to a page that loads fast. Make sure all your content loads quickly, even on a slow internet connection.
  • Schema.org markup – Put simply, schema.org markup explains your content to Google in a format it can easily digest and understand. Schema.org markup is a BIG help to Google, and it can also prove invaluable in helping you rank at the top of SERPs when these include a Featured Snippet or Quick Answer. 
  • Mobile-friendliness – The content needs to look great and provide a good user experience on mobile devices. Google’s index is now mobile-first, so usability on mobile is a major influence on rankings.
  • Security – A secure site is a credible site. 
  • Code quality – Google needs clean, clear code to be able to digest and understand your content efficiently and effectively. To date, Google can “understand” some programming languages better than others (i.e., HTML over JavaScript); however, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using the latter on your site. It just means you need to ensure Google can access its contents efficiently in every case. 

Content Optimization for SEO

  • Titles – The meta title and heading on the page are very critical signals to Google.
  • Rich content – As the web becomes more multimedia, people expect richer content, and Google wants to provide that to them. So Google is looking for more than just reams of text. Google wants to see images, sound, video to make their user’s interaction with the content better. 
  • Content copy – As we saw previously in the section about Quality Raters, Google is looking for quality, accurate, credible content that serves a real purpose and brings benefit to the user (content that has a beneficial purpose). And, in the context of the user’s search query, content that answers the question or solves the problem that the user has expressed to Google. 
  • Internal linking – Needs to be clear, logical, and simple. Google relies on internal linking to identify which content on your site is most important, and it also relies on internal linking to find all the pages on your site. 
  • Freshness – Regular updates of your content indicate to Google that you are providing up-to-date information. Once again, it wants to satisfy its users with relevant and accurate information.
  • Outbound links – Google uses these to check that your information is accurate and also to confirm the credibility of the author and website. Despite what you may hear, outbound links (to authoritative and relevant sources, of course) are a positive signal to Google.

Off-page Search Engine Optimization

Off-page SEO factors include those signals sent to Google not by any changes you made to your site’s code or content but from third party websites. This is why this category of factors mainly includes links or mentions of your pages on other people’s sites or social media profiles.

Inbound Links 

This is the biggest off-page factor — links to your content from relevant, authoritative sites are a very strong signal to Google that the content is popular and worthy. We can consider links as “votes” — people link to content from their websites or their social media accounts because they appreciate it. More links = more “love.” And if you think back to the part about E-A-T, links indicate that this piece of content, this website, and this author are a trusted, authoritative source of information. That is why building a reliable backlink profile is one of the pillars of Search Engine Optimization.

  • Link authority – Earning links from highly authoritative sites is more valuable than earning links on websites with a lower Authority Score.
  • Link relevancy – Google prefers links from relevant sites — usually in the same industry, or news sites or review sites that cover multiple industries in a credible manner.
  • Page relevancy – Google looks at the content surrounding the link and evaluates how relevant that piece of content is to your content. Links from highly relevant content send a stronger signal.
  • Anchor text – Relevant anchor text (the text that people click on to visit the link) is an important signal because it helps Google better understand the context of each link. 

Social Signals

Sharing on social platforms, and the general social buzz around your content is a signal to Google that the content is useful and appreciated. And when recommending content as a solution to its user, useful and appreciated are high on the list of priorities. 

Unlinked Brand Mentions

A mention of your brand is a signal to Google, even without a link. Google understands that someone is talking about you when they use your brand name. Obviously, you are looking for mentions with positive sentiment in a relevant context. 

Influencer Marketing

When influencers in your industry talk about your brand and cite your content, they are essentially vouching for you. That peer approval from a trusted, authoritative expert will help improve the credibility of your brand, your author, and your content in Google’s eyes. Once again, we are looking for relevancy — approval from an authoritative figure within your industry.

Trust Signals

Trust signals indicate to Google that your brand, your products, and your content are appreciated by your users/customers. Trust signals are things like product and service reviews, positive mentions in forums, comments on your blog posts, etc. In short, any positive activity by your users around your products, brand, or content.

How SEO Works 

One of the most popular questions is What is SEO and how it works? The first part of this question was briefly answered above, so let’s take a closer look at How Search Engine Optimization works. This section covers what you can do to improve your chances of being recommended by Google as the appropriate, relevant, and helpful answer to the question a user has asked.

We can divide this into three main areas: technical, content, and backlinks.

Basics of Technical SEO

Technical Search Engine Optimization is all about the quality of the infrastructure that delivers your content. Good technical SEO means that Google will find your content easily, and that content will be easy for it to digest and understand. 

What are your top priorities for technical SEO? 

  • Crawlability – Google needs to be able to access your pages and digest your content. The term “crawl” basically means access and read a webpage. If Google cannot access your content, it cannot offer it in its results. Examples of crawlability issues are not allowing Google to crawl your pages — a file called robots.txt is where you can give or refuse permission to Google to access specific pages of your site. Another issue for crawlability is having pages behind a paywall, or login page — Google cannot access those pages and so cannot know what content they contain. 
  • Indexability – Once Google has seen your page, it needs to be sure that you want it to show that page to its users. The noindex tag in the head section of your pages allows you to indicate to Google whether or not you want it to consider a specific page for its search results.
  • Site architecture – You need to organize your site in a manner that makes it easy to understand sections and catégories and make it simple for Google to navigate through every single page on your site. If there are pages on your site that have no internal links pointing to them, Google will have trouble finding those pages. And even if it does, it will consider them as relatively less valuable than pages that do have internal links. Great site architecture is also a big bonus for user experience. 
  • Schema markup – This factor is fundamentally important. Think of it as Google’s native language. Schema markup explains your content to Google in a manner it understands, making it easy to digest and understand. Google has a tool to test the schema.org markup on your pages.
  • Speed – Every page needs to be fast. Users don’t like to wait, and Google knows that; It wants to recommend faster pages to its users since they give a better user experience. Google has a tool to test your pages for speed.
  • Mobile-friendliness – Every page on your site needs to be mobile-friendly. Users need to be able to consume your content easily on a mobile device. Google evaluates your content according to its performance on a mobile device, so it is vital you get this right. Google has a tool to test your pages for mobile-friendliness.
  • User interface – As we saw earlier in the raters section, Google wants to recommend sites that appeal to users both in the design and the comfort of use. Your site layout needs to ensure that when the user lands on your page that they find it attractive, they understand at a glance what your page offers, and they grasp the navigational options that they have. You want them to interact with your content and then want to investigate further. In short, you want them to stay. 

Content SEO 

Meta titles and meta descriptions – These areas of a page determine, in many cases, what Google shows its users in the search results. 

An accurate meta title that describes clearly and unambiguously what the content of the page offers to the user is supremely important — it is the reason they click on your result or not. MORE ON THISWhat NOT To Do When Writing a Meta Description Post Gabka Koscova  

Meta titles and meta descriptions are essentially sales copy that needs to pull the user in, and also help Google better understand the content and purpose of each page. Ideally, the meta title will include the main keywords the user searched for. This is essential for Google’s algorithm, but also for the user; people feel more at ease and are more likely to click on text that contains the words they used in their search. 

Heading – The title the user sees when they land on your page is a critical signal to Google. Like the meta title, it needs to be clear and unambiguous and include the terms the user searched for. Again, this is an important signal to Google, but also reassuring and helpful for the user.

Writing style – Keep your writing simple, clear, and focused. Keep sentences short, break the content into logical chunks, and stay on topic. Help readers get right to the solution to their problem. Organize your content so that the value it provides is easy to identify, understand, and engage with.

Rich content – Include rich content such as audio, video, and illustrative images whenever feasible. Google is not capable of understanding the content of images or videos. So, when you do include these richer formats, accompany them with the appropriate meta tags to help Google and those with visual impairments understand what the image/video is about. You could also include a written version to make it easier for users who prefer written content. 

Outbound links – These kinds of links lead to sources that confirm the accuracy of your content and that validate your credibility and the credibility of the author. 

Authorship – Identify the author explicitly where appropriate. If they have great E-A-T, this will bring credibility to the content.

Taking it further, your content does not live in isolation. It is vital to see each piece of content as part of an overall, coherent content strategy. As soon as you do that, you are thinking in terms of content marketing.

What makes great content?

As Bill Gates once said: “Content is King,” and that is still true. What does that mean for you in terms of Search Engine Optimization? The better the content, the higher positions in SERP you will claim. That is simple! But what differs poor content from great?

Great Writing

For all content (written, audio, and video), correct grammar, proper spelling, and a clear style are essential both to Google and the user consuming it. Write naturally, write for your audience, and don’t be tempted to try and trick Google by adding the words you want to rank for multiple times (called ‘keyword stuffing’). That tactic does not work, and it makes for bad user experience. Google wants to exclude this (they explicitly tell their quality raters to reject it). And with recent developments such as BERT, Google is becoming very good at understanding natural language. 

Relevancy

Having content that truly addresses the problems your audience is facing is vital. If you want Google to recommend your content to its users, that content needs to bring value to them. That means being highly relevant information and providing a helpful solution to the user’s problem or question. On a wider scale, consistently creating relevant, helpful content that solves users’ problems demonstrates to Google that you understand your audience and that you are striving to bring beneficial content to them — and that breeds credibility. 

So focus on bringing real value to your audience with every piece of content you create. To bring real value, you need to focus on user intent.

Search Terms

What are your audiences looking for? An SEO specialist must clearly understand his audience to provide only the best keywords and topics for upcoming content. You can find out the search terms, or keywords, they use by looking at tools such as SEMrush, and also by asking your sales and support staff what questions people ask them. 

When you put together a solid and researched list, think very hard about the intent behind their searches and questions. Sometimes it will be obvious? Often, searches and questions are ambiguous, and the intent is not immediately obvious. You need to understand your audience and provide valuable content that serves the intent of their query.

What formats of content are appropriate? 

Different types of content are appropriate for different stages in the funnel, different users. and different user contexts (location, device, etc.). A good content strategy will contain a mix of the different formats I am about to describe. 

Lists – Both people and Google love lists. They are easy to digest, easy to understand, and easy to engage with.Types of content - Lists

Types of content - Tables

How-to guides – These are perfect for providing a step-by-step approach to a specific query. 

Long-form guides – These may involve a lot of work, but this type of content can really help your audience understand a specific or a wider topic in depth. 

Tables – Tables of data or information on your pages are easy for Google to understand, and they are also incredibly useful and helpful to your audience when they need to process data in relation to a topic.

Graphics – Images, photos, illustrations. Google is including these in the SERPs more and more, especially on mobile. Plus, images – when appropriately used and tagged – can drive visits from Google’s image search, which is particularly popular with some industries and types of queries (i.e., fashion or travel). 

Infographics – Infographics are images that contain information (usually illustrations + text) that makes them standalone content. They are great as content to push out to your audience via social media as they can generate great engagement. And, they are also a great way to build links.

Video – Google is including more and more video in search results. This is particularly true of how-to videos.

Additional benefit: If you post your videos to YouTube, then you benefit from greater brand visibility and referrals on that platform. YouTube is the second most visited website on the planet.

Podcasts – These are audio-only content. Podcasts are on the rise and very popular, especially within specific niches. Like videos and images, Google shows them in the normal search results.

Types of content - Podcasts

Webinars – A webinar is a live online meeting or presentation that is open to the public. It is a great way to engage and build your audience, but they also provide great longer-term content because, after the live event, you can post it to YouTube as a video people can watch at any time. 

Ebooks – downloadable books, usually in the format of a PDF, that brands often give away for free. They are perfect for in-depth content that is too long for an article, and they can be used in a clever way to acquire more information about your audiences. Ideally, you would have a landing page with an introduction to the ebook then require an email sign up for the user to download the ebook. This not only gives you valuable SEO-related traffic but also allows you to collect prospects’ emails for future marketing efforts.

What is Link Building – The Basics

Backlinks are incredibly important in Search Engine Optimization. Due to the amount of referring domains, Google understands your reliability and the authority in the chosen niche. In this section, I will explain the importance of links in SEO and try to explain the art of link building.

Links in SEO 

For better ranking in Google, your content needs to have inbound links (also known as backlinks). It may have some internal links from your own site, but they only indicate the importance of the content within the context of your site. They don’t help Google see it’s importance in the context of the wider world. Inbound links from relevant and authoritative sites indicate to Google that your content is popular (peer approval), authoritative, and trusted. These are all very strong signals to Google that your content is a good result to recommend to its users for relevant search queries.

An important concept here is “from relevant and authoritative sites.” When looking to obtain inbound links, especially for a new website, webmasters tend to focus on quantity. However, quality in the form of acquiring links from websites with high authority, which are relevant to your content. should be the priority.

In 2012, Google released a very strong algorithm update called Penguin that aimed at eliminating “link cheating” (meaning to prevent sites with spammy link profiles from ranking high). In 2017, they announced that the process of identifying, and then ignoring these spammy links is now running in real-time, which means that any link to a site’s pages that is considered low quality will be ignored and will not help to rank.

How to Build Links

In a perfect world, your amazing content will earn links on merit without any effort on your part. People (website owners, journalists, bloggers, your fans, etc.) will link to your content because, after finding it and consuming it, they consider it to be a valuable resource for their audience. 

However, the world is imperfect, and this simple process doesn’t happen naturally very often. Link building is simply helping that process along.

Link building consists of identifying people with the capacity to link to your amazing content (website owners, journalists, bloggers, etc.), pointing them to your content, and encouraging them to link to it from a relevant page on their site; sounds simple. And it is. But it is also time-consuming. Contacting people, building relationships with them, and convincing them that linking to your content is beneficial to them and their audience all take time.

What are the best candidates for link building?

Sites that would potentially see value in linking to you, who will be relevant to your business, and have the necessary authority are often sites your audience uses. So if you can get an understanding of which websites they visit, which authors they read, and which industry thought leaders they engage with, then you have a good idea of the sites and people that you can approach. 

Take note, when looking at opportunities for links, relevancy is the number #1 factor you should consider, then the #2 factor is credibility, and #3 – is popularity. To really help your SEO efforts, you are looking for links from quality, relevant content, preferably on websites that are authoritative in your industry, and if possible, popular. 

Outreach

Once you have identified who you want to link to you, you ‘simply’ need to reach out to them and point your content out to them, indicating why it would be valuable and interesting for their users, and suggesting a link. If you have targeted correctly, this process can be quite natural (this process can be slow since people will rarely link to you when you first contact them, as mentioned above). 

For it to work, your content HAS to be of great quality and bring value to their users — exactly the same conditions that we mentioned for Google earlier. 

Quality content that brings value to users is what everyone is looking for — website owners, journalists, influencers, bloggers, Google, and even us as users. 

Guest Blogging

Writing articles for other relevant and authoritative websites not only can help build an author’s reputation but also allows you to create inbound links from a trusted, authoritative source. This is one of the best opportunities for an SEO specialist to build a backlink

Ideas for Engaging Content That Earns Links

  • Pieces using data – Create content that includes unique and helpful (or interesting) analysis of data, especially original data.
  • Emotional – Content that appeals to people’s emotions is great for earning links.
  • Humorous – If you can hit the right note and your humor appeals to your audience, then this type of content is a big winner for gaining merited links. It is also great for creating a buzz and gaining brand visibility on social media. 
  • Collaborations – Create content that includes an industry influencer/leader: quotes, co-authorship, and interviews are three great examples. This type of content will have authority ‘built in’ since you are associating your brand to a recognized and relevant industry leader. With this type of content, you already have one link right out of the box — from the party you collaborated with!
  • Authoritative/definitive pieces – Creating this type of content is tough but pays dividends when done right. If your content covers a topic thoroughly and accurately, it brings value to the target audience, and that makes links easier to get. 

How Social Media Helps SEO

Is social media part of SEO?

Whether social media activity, including likes, replies, comments, and shares directly help with ranking is not clear. For most major platforms, we know that Google crawls a great deal of the content. However, there is so much content being generated; Google cannot catch all of it. For example, according to The Social Skinny, there are 510,000 comments, 293,000 status updates, and 136,000 photos added on Facebook every minute. But Google is crawling and indexing these sites and large amounts of their content. So we can safely assume that a healthy presence with ongoing engagement from a relevant audience helps SEO.

Additional benefit: Social media is vital to your marketing efforts beyond just SEO, so having a well-thought-out social media strategy is an essential aspect of your digital marketing strategy. Social media activity helps enormously with building your reputation, brand awareness, and your audience. Over time it is a great channel for maintaining contact with your existing audience, expanding your reach, and distributing the content you create. 

How fast does SEO work? 

Search Engine Optimization is a long term strategy. As we saw earlier, SEO has three main pillars — technical, content, and backlinks. For your strategy to bear fruit, all three need to be solid, and that doesn’t happen overnight. 

Some of your efforts will pay-off in the short term after they are implemented. Changing meta titles, headings, or improving the content on a few pages are typical examples. 

Other efforts, such as implementing Schema.org markup across a number of pages, creating a substantial volume of informative content, building links, or attracting positive reviews, take time and will pay off in the long term.

No one single thing will revolutionize the performance of your SEO strategy. All the elements I described above work together, and it is the combination of all the signals Google reads that will make the needle move for you.

Conclusion 

Is SEO dead?

Almost every time Google makes an update to its algorithm or to its SERPs features, this question is trending. The answer is “no.” But SEO does not exist in isolation. It is one (very vital) pillar of your digital marketing strategy. New customers will see your brand multiple times before deciding to do — not only in Google search but also on many other platforms such as social media, TV, radio, YouTube, on review sites, Google My Business, etc. As you now know, these can all help with your Search Engine Optimization, and they all bring benefits to your business in their own right and, therefore, can all necessary for your digital marketing strategy to be successful.

So, an intelligent digital marketing strategy will use SEO to help drive other aspects of your marketing, and vice versa.

What are the most important elements of an SEO strategy? 

For your SEO strategy to be successful, you must trigger as many of the signals that Google is looking at as possible. A helpful way of looking at how all these individual actions fit into an overall strategy is to think in terms of serving the three following pillars: 

Understanding, credibility, and deliverability.

Understanding – if you want Google to recommend our content as the most suitable solution to their user’s problem, it must understand clearly and precisely what it is you are offering. Actions such as clear copywriting, adding schema markup, relevant inbound links serve the purpose of helping Google understand and be confident it has correctly understood what it is you are offering. 

Credibility – If Google has understood that multiple pieces of content offer a solution that brings a similar level of value to the user, then it will recommend the one it perceives as the most credible. Actions such as improving E-A-T, link building, linking out to relevant sources all help with your credibility and the credibility of your content.

Deliverability – Google wants to recommend content that provides a great user experience – fast, attractive, great quality, and in the most appropriate format according to the user’s specific needs at that time (geo-location device, bandwidth, etc.). Actions such as mobile-friendliness, download speed, using videos, and text in your content all help to ensure Google considers your content deliverable.

Every SEO action you take will serve one of these pillars.

Recent Posts

Link Building for SEO: Which Strategies Work in 2020 (and Which Don’t)

Ranking on the search engine results page isn’t easy. When you are competing against companies with seemingly endless marketing budgets, you need to figure out how to be more effective with your given marketing resources. Thankfully, link building is a great organic way to build traffic and have your website content begin ranking on the search engine results page.

If you intend to rank a website on Google search results in 2020, you can’t ignore the importance of link building and the need to put together a solid strategy that will help you earn high-quality links. In fact, links remain one of the top three most important ranking factors out there.

That said, whether you are a total SEO beginner and are learning how to build links for the first time or have been doing it for years and just want to find new tactics that still work, there are literally dozens of approaches you can take.

In this guide, you will learn how to build links with strategies and tactics that are still effective and that will help you to earn those top-ranking positions, as well as knowing those that will see you wasting time and resources and that could potentially have a negative impact on your organic visibility. 

We will share quick win tactics alongside those that need a little more time and planning, but that can truly help you to get those ‘can’t buy’ links.

  • What is Link Building?
  • Why is Link Building Important For SEO?
  • What Are the Key Elements of a Successful Link Building Strategy?
  • White Hat vs. Black Hat vs. Grey Hat Link Building 
  • Toxic Links and the Potential Negative Impact of the Wrong Strategy
  • Link Building Strategies You Need to Know in 2020
  • Quick-Win Link Building Tactics
  • Traditional Link Building Tactics
  • Link Earning Tactics
  • Paid Link Building Tactics
  • How to Use Outreach for Link Building
  • Easy Ways to Discover Link Building Opportunities
  • Metrics to Measure the Success of Link Building

If you want to learn how to build better links than your competitors, then read on…

What is Link Building?

Link building is a key part of any successful SEO strategy that involves getting other websites to link to yours — a simple hyperlink from one site to another. It is also agreed by many that it is one of the hardest parts of ranking a website, whilst one of the most rewarding when you get it right. 

Not familiar with how links work?

When website A links to website B, it s a strong hint to Google’s algorithm that it deserves to rank higher for relevant keywords, and you might hear these referred to as inbound links, backlinks, external links, or, quite simply, just links. 

You can think of links from other websites like votes.

The more high quality links that point to your website (and form part of your backlink profile), the higher you should rank on Google, and, therefore, the higher level of organic traffic you should receive. 

However, links aren’t all created equal, and some can even cause your website to decrease in visibility, something that we will cover shortly. 

There are many different tactics that you can use to build links, some easier to execute than others, and knowing where to get started can sometimes be difficult, especially when you are aware that some can do more harm than good.

Why is Link Building Important For SEO?

Link building takes time and effort. There is no hiding from that fact.

It is also hard to get right, meaning that those who can successfully execute tactics to build better links than their competitors typically see significant growth in organic traffic and revenue.

And that is why you need to understand why links are so important and should account for a considerable portion of your SEO campaigns’ resources.

We delved deep into the importance of link building for SEO in our guide to backlinks, which you should check out for a detailed introduction to the what and the why behind this key pillar of any successful campaign.

However, the main reasons why you need to make sure you are placing a strong focus on link building as an SEO are:

  • You will rank higher on Google and other search engines.
  • Google will find new pages on your site faster.
  • You’ll enjoy increased credibility and trustworthiness as a business.
  • You could benefit from targeted referral traffic.

You can’t ignore link building, and you need to make sure you are rolling out tactics that give you a competitive advantage, something that we will show you how to do in this guide.

What Are the Key Elements of a Successful Link Building Strategy?

There is more to link building than it may seem, and not just in terms of the complexity of those tactics that deliver the best results and impact. 

When planning a link building strategy, you need to remember that not all links are equal and that there are key elements that drive forward success. 

You shouldn’t be building links blindly. 

By that, we mean that you need to know what a great link looks like for you and fully understand that the more effort you put into getting the right links, the better impact you will see.

Here are some of the key components that you need to focus on that make up a great link building strategy to help you understand what a great link profile looks like.

1. Contextual Links

Links on a page that are more likely to be clicked are typically those that hold the most value and can have the biggest impact on rankings and the way that Google measures the value of a link is with PageRank, and its ‘reasonable surfer model’ parent indicates that different features associated with links change how this flows. 

Bill Slawski explains this as:

If a link is in the main content area of a page, uses a font and color that might make it stand out, and uses text that may make it something likely that someone might click upon it, then it could pass along a fair amount of PageRank. On the other hand, if it combines features that make it less likely to be clicked upon, such as being in the footer of a page, in the same color text as the rest of the text on that page, and the same font type, and uses anchor text that doesn’t interest people, it may not pass along a lot of PageRank.

— Bill Slawski

Contextual links, those placed in the body of a web page’s content as opposed to the footer or sidebar, as an example, are typically higher quality links and are key to a successful strategy.

A contextual link is the clickable text (usually the keywords) found within the written content of your webpage. If used effectively, contextual linking can be proven a very strong SEO linking strategy for your website. Not only that, contextual linking earns you high credibility and popularity among users as well as search engines.

Contextual linking can be done for internal as well as external resources i.e. linking your inner webpages and/or give references to other websites. Both have their own paybacks.

2. A High Percentage of ‘Followed’ Links

Not all links pass PageRank and impact a site’s rankings. 

Links can have different attributes applied, with the main ones you need to know to be nofollow, sponsored, and UGC links.

Links that have a rel=”nofollow” attribute give a hint that Google should not crawl them and that they should not associate the two sites from a ranking perspective. 

Rel=”sponsored” attributes indicate that a link has been paid for (and therefore should not pass PageRank).

Rel=”UGC” showcases links that come from user-generated content such as forums and comments and indicates that these links are not editorially placed and may be manipulative.

If a link is referred to as a ‘followed’ link (or sometimes, a ‘dofollow’ link – even though this is technically not the right terminology), it means that there are no attributes in place that prevent PageRank from being passed and a great link profile should contain a high percentage of these, so long as they come from quality sources.

Summed up, follow links are links that count as points, pushing SEO link juice and boosting the page rank of the linked-to sites, helping them go higher in the SERPs as a result. On the other hand, a no follow links do not count as a point in the page’s favor, does not boost PageRank, and doesn’t help a page’s placement in the SERPs. No follow links get no love.

3. Editorially Placed Links

Editorially placed links are simply those that exist because a third-party has taken the decision to add a link from their website to yours, rather than because of payment, some other incentive, or that you were the one responsible for placing it and did so to increase your rankings.

An editorial link is a one-way link placed within the body of a content that is given naturally by other websites to specify a resource. Basically, it’s a form of citation on the web, which generally indicates that the destination of the link is the original source of the procured data, idea, concept or statement.

The most effective links are editorially placed, and Google themselves highlight in their guidelines that links that don’t fall under this categorization can be deemed unnatural.

 

4. A Focus on Links From Unique Referring Domains

A great link profile will see links coming from a higher number of unique referring domains rather than the same few time and time again.

It is widely reported that having links from a higher number of unique domains can help a site to rank in prominent positions, with Nick Eubanks commenting in this blog post that, “Often times when I see sites ranking with much lower authority, they tend to have a much stronger ratio of linking root domains versus their competitors.”

A successful strategy should always place a focus upon tactics that will see a link building campaign earn links from new domains that have never linked before to increase the number of unique linking domains. 

5. A Strong Topical Relevance

Links should be from websites and content that is closely related to your own site’s topic, and this is another great example of ensuring that you are not just building any links, but rather the right ones.

Remember that links originally existed on the web to navigate a user from page A to page B, and on this assumption, why would a link take you to something that wasn’t topically related?

It doesn’t make sense, does it? So be sure to follow this stance with your link building efforts. 

A great way to get yourself into this mindset is, when prospecting for link opportunities, is to ask whether you would still pursue it if Google didn’t exist or use links as part of its algorithm. 

If the answer is yes, perhaps because you would expect it to send quality referral traffic or help to increase your brand’s awareness or authority — this usually means it is from a topically related website where your audience hangs out online. 

If you would answer no, it is a good indication that the link isn’t relevant to your business. 

6. A Natural Anchor Text Mix

Anchor text is the text used to link from one page to another. Most naturally, it’s known as the clickable text in a hyperlink. SEO best practices dictate that anchor text be relevant to the page you’re linking to, rather than generic text. The blue, underlined anchor text is the web standard, as it’s the most common.

Naturally, when linking to a website, you would likely reference the brand name, the article title, or perhaps even just use ‘click here’ or similar. That said, Google’s algorithm utilizes anchor text as an indication of what a page is about and, therefore, it can influence rankings. 

However, Google’s guidelines clearly state that optimized anchor text (using your main target keywords or commercial terms) is a violation of their guidelines, and excessive use of this is a known contributor towards both manual actions and algorithmic filters being applied. 

Your link profile should contain a natural mix, with no obvious spike of links using optimized anchor text.  

White Hat vs. Black Hat vs. Grey Hat SEO and Link Building 

Types of SEO: How They Impact Your Business

If you are new to SEO and, more specifically, link building, you may have come across references to black hat, grey hat, and black hat tactics.

These need addressing, even though we will look at some of these approaches in more depth further into this guide.

Quite simply, white hat SEO uses tactics that strictly abide by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and take an ethical approach to earn top-ranking positions. It places a strong focus on optimizing for human audiences and is seen as a long-term approach to earn sustained visibility on the search engines. 

On the other hand, black hat SEO uses those that violate these guidelines and try to rank a site higher with manipulative tactics, usually looking to gain quick wins. Black hat SEO is usually frowned upon, and can actually hurt your site rankings if you are not cautious of your link building practices. Google employs a webspam team whose core focus is to ensure that websites using black hat tactics do not rank.

Grey hat SEO sits somewhere in the middle, using tactics that could be seen as manipulative and are riskier than white hat tactics, yet aren’t as obvious a violation of Google’s terms than black hat.

Toxic Links: The Potential Negative Impact of the Wrong Strategy

State of Links 2019: SEO Questions that Google should answer

Toxic backlinks are the unnatural links that harm the search rankings of a website. Google’s Penguin update focuses on penalizing the websites that have a bad backlinks profile. If your website has a huge toxic backlinks profile, there are chances that the SEO company you had hired or are still working with is responsible for it. There are companies, which gather spammy links to give their clients a sudden rank boost, which could be harmful in the long run. You may come across several SEO firms which are not updated about the latest industry practices and are not adhering the webmasters guidelines. Associating with these companies for SEO can cause a severe damage to the health of your website.

If you build the wrong links and use risky black hat tactics, you run the risk of having toxic links in your backlink profile that could negatively affect your rankings and organic traffic.

But you need to be aware that using the wrong tactics to build links can have disastrous consequences.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • If Google determines that you are building links that violate its Webmaster Guidelines, you could see your site impacted by either a manual action or by an algorithmic filter (most likely Google Penguin), both of which can see your site drop rankings.
  • It is not unusual for it to take months, or even years, to recover from such a negative impact.
  • Time to recover is one thing to be aware of when balancing low effort, high-risk tactics with those that are lower risk but need a higher investment in effort.

The most successful strategies deliver sustained success, and you need to be using tactics that aren’t going to see your hard work impacted by a webspam filter or fall foul of a manual review. 

Toxic or say unnatural links can negatively impact the SERP rankings of the website and if Google notices that the site has high number of such links, it can also exclude the site from its database. Non-removal of toxic backlinks can also invite a Penguin penalty.

Link Building Strategies You Need to Know in 2020

Link Building Strategy: Tips for 2018 - Relevance

To build the right links that actually have a positive impact on your organic rankings and traffic, you need to make sure you are using the right strategy. 

But first, you need to be clear on the difference between strategies and tactics and explore each of these.

  • Strategy = what you are going to do.
  • Tactics = how you are going to do it.

Applied to link building, different strategies typically balance different levels of effort and resource with the potential rewards and returns (i.e., the more difficult a tactic is to implement, the better results you will see as it is harder for competitors to do the same), as well as the level of risk surrounding either algorithmic or manual actions taken by Google.

Link Building Survey

20 stats that will change the way you survey your customers ...

A few months ago, 850 SEO professionals revealed the link building strategies and tactics that they are relying on the most, with a wealth of interesting findings shared.

In fact, we were a little surprised that guest posting remains the most popular tactic. 

But, all too often, we rely on the tactics we are the most familiar with and know the best. With that in mind, let’s cast the net a little wider and explore what five different strategies look like before diving deep into the tactics, hopefully introducing you to some new ways to build great links.

Quick-Win Link Building

It is a common misconception that all link building approaches are resource-intensive. That is simply not true, and while many certainly are, if you are looking for tactics that can help you quickly pick up some good links, you will find plenty of quick-win opportunities. 

  • Low hanging fruits are usually the easiest links to get, and that means they are also those that your competitors will also reach for first. (That is not to say you shouldn’t be building these links, because you should.)
  • A quick win strategy often sees a high return for the lower effort you will need to put into the tactics.
  • These wins are what builds a solid foundation and put you on a level playing field with competitors who have already put these tactics to work.

However, you need to be realistic and understand that this strategy is rarely enough on its own, in competitive sectors, to see you land top-spot rankings. 

To take your SEO performance to the next level, you usually need to pivot your strategy towards others once you have landed the quick win opportunities. 

Traditional Link Building

5 Efficient Ways to Optimize Your Link Building - TechWyse 'Rise ...

Traditional link building tactics rely on you manually placing a link through your efforts. As in, the link building is typically in full control of the outcome of the tactics, as opposed to relying upon a journalist or other third party to want to link out to your site.

And that is exactly why these tactics are often referred to as ‘manual link building.’ But let’s get one thing straight; links that you are in control of usually aren’t the highest quality. 

  • In the eyes of Google, any links that are not editorially placed (the decision being taken to link being made by someone else) are manipulative.
  • Therefore, they are likely to either have less of an impact on rankings, be straight up ignored, or, if the tactics are executed at scale, could harm your site’s performance.

That said, these aren’t bad links, as such, and they can absolutely drive benefits such as referral traffic or help to position you as a thought leader, aside from an SEO impact — just be sure to take the time to understand the tactic properly, know the risks associated with them and use carefully. 

Another point to make is that, as with quick-win tactics, a strategy based around traditional link building tactics is likely to be one that can pretty easily be copied by competitors. It is not going to give you a significant competitive advantage.

Link Earning

If you really want to gain this competitive advantage through links, you need to adopt a strategy that will see you earn editorially placed links. 

Link earning tactics are high effort but give a high reward. You need to be prepared to invest time and resources into earning links; doing so will see you land links that competitors will struggle to replicate. 

And let’s not forget that Google has been telling us for years, as part of their Webmaster Guidelines, that:

The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community.

Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.

— Google Webmaster Guidelines (Link Schemes)

When you earn a link, a third party is actively taking the decision to do so, meaning they are linking because there is a reason to do so; that adds value to their own audience. 

These are the true holy grail of link building and the tactics that are essential to success in competitive niches.

Paid Link Building

Despite being a straight-up violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and a tactic that is clearly defined as a link scheme, paid link building is still relatively common in 2020 for the simple reason that it guarantees results. 

Earning links is hard work; there is no denying that. And even manual link building and the wealth of quick-win tactics available still require effort to see results. Some things to remember:

  • Using paid links is, in the opinion of many, lazy link building.
  • Paid link building is a clear manipulation of Google’s algorithm and a low effort yet extremely high-risk tactic. 
  • Most paid for links end up coming from sites that are not topically aligned, that have a high count of outbound links, and are generally low quality. 
  • Aside from this risk, don’t forget that if you can buy links, so can your competitors. 

There are, of course, a few exceptions to the rule here — those being when earning links to support your SEO strategy isn’t the primary focus, and you are either looking to land referral traffic or build your brand authority and are doing so with sponsored placements and advertorials on quality sites and have either a rel=“nofollow” or rel=“sponsored” attribute in place to prevent negative impact on your search rankings. 

As a general rule though, paid links purely to help increase your rankings should be seen as a no go.

Black Hat Link Building

Black hat link building strategies are often aimed to manipulate search engine rankings and, as we outlined above, often focus on unethical tactics that directly violate Google’s guidelines and utilize those methods defined as being part of a link scheme.

  • There is little, or no, focus on the user, rather, looking to game the algorithm.
  • These tactics usually result in a manual action or algorithmic filter being applied, and, as algorithms continue to develop, they can also see links that don’t trigger such an adjustment and are simply being ignored. 
  • Black hat strategies aren’t sustainable and shouldn’t be considered a viable option to pursue in 2020.

We won’t be sharing or exploring black hat tactics in-depth. We wouldn’t want to give them any exposure as they are not tactics that we believe should be used, especially unless the risks are very well understood.

Common Black Hat Link Building Tactics to Be Aware Of

300+ Free Caution & Warning Vectors - Pixabay

However, it is important that you are aware of the type of tactics that fall under black hat strategies to ensure you can avoid them if they are recommended by anyone you are working with, or you come across while learning more yourself.

Keep aware of the following factors when considering black hat SEO and linkbuilding.

  • Paid links that pass PageRank
  • Private Blog Networks (PBNs)
  • Large-scale article marketing and guest-posting campaigns that use keyword-rich anchor text
  • Low-quality directories that exist solely to build links from
  • Keyword-rich links that are embedded within widgets on other people’s websites
  • Links obtained from hacked sites
  • Links built using automated programs or services
  • Requiring links as part of a Terms of Service or contract
  • Comment spam
  • Widely distributed footer or sidebar links

Quick-Win Link Building Tactics

Try out these tactics below if you are looking for low effort, high reward tactics that won’t take much time or resource investment to implement.

They are all valuable tactics that make sense to focus some of your efforts on due to their ease to obtain.

1. Broken Link Building

target url error example to find broken links

This strategy involves finding relevant pages in your industry that could link out to you and that have broken outbound links. You can reach out and suggest that the broken link is updated to point to a relevant piece of content on your site.

A tried and tested link building tactic that is really easy to get started with, and that can drive some quick-win results is broken link building. What are broken links? Simply put, they are links that do not work and won’t lead you to the intended webpage.

A real quick way of doing this is to monitor your competitors’ backlink profile for broken links, and you can learn how to do this with the SEMrush backlink audit tool in this guide to finding a competitor’s broken backlinks

2. Reclaim Lost & Broken Links

Over time, links get lost or broken for various reasons that are totally out of your control. 

It could be that an author updates a piece of content and removes the link, that it simply gets lost during a site update or even that the page becomes a 404 or is 301 redirected.

It could even be that a page on your site that has links pointing to it becomes a 404. And links pointing to a 404 page won’t be counted as part of Google’s ranking algorithm.

For whatever reason, you need to monitor your site’s lost and broken links and take action to reclaim them:

  • Reach out to your original contact at a site and try and get a link added back in or fixed when the issue is their end.
  • If you find that a page on your site has become a 404 and is creating broken links, either redirect this URL to the most suitable page, put the original page live again, or reach out and ask for the link target to be updated.

You can find and monitor broken and lost backlinks with the SEMrush backlink audit tool.

3. Unlinked Brand Mentions

backlink audit tool for link building example

Most businesses find themselves mentioned in the press from time to time for one of many different reasons, with some natural references and others coming about as a result of your PR team’s efforts.

It is not uncommon for this coverage not to link and to just be a brand mention, but it is often easy to see this turned into a link with only minimal effort.

The hard work of securing coverage in the first place has already been done.

You can find brand mentions using the SEMrush Brand Monitoring tool to receive notifications whenever someone mentions you but hasn’t linked to your site.

You can then politely email the person who mentioned you and ask them to add a link in, making sure you demonstrate how the link adds value to their readers — this will help make their decision easier. 

You won’t always get a link added, but for only minimal effort, those that you do manage to land with this tactic make it worth your while. 

4. Link Repositioning

A great tactic that comes recommended by Ross Tavendale in his Weekly Wisdom on technical link building — this is link repositioning.

This is not a tactic that is often talked about, but one that can be utilized relatively easily and help to make your existing links work harder.

Quite simply, analyze the links pointing to your homepage and pull down any that talk about specifics of the products or services that you offer. Ones that would be more suited to linking to an internal page in your site, rather than the homepage.

As Ross recommended:

What I would do is look at all of the links pointing to my home page and analyze that content to see if any of that is actually about our blue widgets.

Some of it probably is.

I would contact those people who have written about my blue widgets, and I would say, “Hey, you have linked to the home page. Thank you so much. You are an absolute legend, but it is a bad user experience. People are clicking, going to the homepage, and they can’t see what you have just written about my blue widget. So, can we get them to point to this one?”

And most of the time people are nice enough to update the link and actually put it to the landing page.

— Ross Tavendale

This is also a great tactic if you launch a series of regionally focused sites, having previously had just one global site. 

Let’s say you launch a new website for your business that targets customers in the UK. Analyze your link profile and look for .co.uk domains, then reach out and ask for these links to be updated to your new regional site. 

5. Association & Membership Links

Are you paying to be a member of an industry association such as your local Chamber of Commerce?

If so, such organizations often showcase and link out to their members, and if you are not already listed, it usually only takes an email to request that you’re added. 

6. Supplier Links

If you sell other people’s products, there is a good chance that your suppliers and manufacturers link out to retailers from their own websites, and these can be really quick win links to attain.

Pull together a list of all of your manufacturers and suppliers and work through their websites to see whether they are linking to stockists and retailers. If they are, are you included? 

Often you will find that these aren’t updated as frequently as they should be, and retailers are missing. If you don’t see your store listed, reach out to your contact at the supplier and ask whether they can facilitate getting you added. 

7. Reverse Image Search Link Reclamation

Example of a reverse image search

Have you created infographics or published bespoke photos as part of your content strategy in the past? 

Perhaps you have got an established industry expert within your business (or your client’s) that is often featured in the press?

Head over to Google Images and run a reverse image search. 

If you find that there are sites that are using your image but haven’t credited you with a link, reach out and ask them to add one it. 

8. Q&A Platform Links

Remember, we said that link building should be as much about focusing upon tactics that send you great referral traffic and help to build your brand as impacting your search rankings?

While these will only land you nofollow links, using Q&A platforms like Quora and Reddit are great ways to build links that send targeted traffic to your site. These links will also help to diversify your link profile.

Get involved in relevant communities on these platforms, and be sure to add value. This isn’t about jumping straight in and adding a link but sharing relevant content and suggestions to help other users who have questions.

Here’s a great guide over at Search Engine Journal from Julia McCoy, where you can learn more about using this tactic as part of your strategy.

9. Internal Linking

This is a slightly different tactic. 

Often when we talk about link building, our efforts are focused solely on building external links, but a real quick-win tactic can be to spend time improving and optimizing your site’s internal linking structure.

You see, internal linking is important to properly distribute PageRank throughout your website, and if you have earned links to certain pages but haven’t maximized the impact of those links by passing authority and link equity to other related pages, you could see some noticeable gains with this tactic.

Internal linking, while it takes time and effort to do properly, is totally in your control and something that you can do today, without any input needed from third parties at all.

Why not check out our step-by-step guide to building an internal linking strategy that works?

Traditional Link Building Tactics

There are tactics that were once widely used and abused that have come under scrutiny in recent years. This is usually because they don’t result in earned links, rather those where the link builder has an active involvement in the placement of the link.

Now don’t get us wrong, these tactics won’t necessarily result in toxic links pointing to your site, far from it.

You just need to understand how to use each one and at what point you should stop scaling the number of links built in this way, as well as considering other benefits that these links can bring. 

1. Directory Submissions

Example of a spammy directory used for link building

There was a time when directories were set up solely as a way to build links. How would this work? Well businesses would submit your website URL and its details on the web in a directory under a particular category

They look something like this:

Pretty spammy, right? 

There is no value here for users, and this site obviously exists just to link out to others. You don’t want to be building links from directories like these. 

But, you shouldn’t dismiss the tactic as it is still a great way to land some great links, especially if you operate in a tight niche or are a local business.

Look for regional specific directories or those that exist within a niche where the primary purpose is to help users to find a suitable business — common sense will usually tell you whether it is worth being featured on.

Just ask yourself, if you were a potential user, would you find it useful? 

If yes, it is probably worth having a link from.

2. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging, also called “guest posting,” is the act of writing content for another company’s website. Generally, guest bloggers write for similar blogs within their industry in order to:

  • Attract traffic back to their website
  • Boost their domain authority using external links to high-authority domains
  • Increase their brand credibility and awareness, and
  • Build relationships with peers in their industry.
showing write for us in the SERPs to help with link building
An example of where to find opportunities for guest blogging

Google’s Matt Cutts announced the death of guest blogging in 2014, but that was in relation to the way the industry was abusing the tactic to build links from article bylines on any site that would take their content.

The tactic remains a great way to earn links in 2020, so long as it is approached in the right way and that you understand it is not a tactic that will scale up massively.

Forget links for a moment, and having your content published on a relevant blog where you share valuable insights and expertise is a great way to build your profile. The fact that you will usually earn a link to back up who you are is an added bonus.

In fact, a quick search on Google using one of a few different operators can reveal a whole host of guest posting opportunities. Here is an example of “write for us”.

Just remember that if you can easily find opportunities to pitch guest posts to, so can your competitors. And that means that any links you do earn might not give you the competitive advantage that other tactics can.

3. Press Release Distribution & Content Syndication

Google has openly said that they ignore links that come from press releases. The reference here was to using press release distribution services that essentially syndicate your content across a number of different sites. 

While this is a tactic that may have had some value once, times have changed, and if you are using PR wire services only to build links, there is a good chance you won’t see any value.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be pitching out to the press to earn links and coverage, far from it.

4. Blog Comments & Forum Links

You may have noticed that blog comments and forum links are mentioned as types of links that violate Google’s guidelines. 

This is very much another “it depends” tactic. 

Don’t go leaving comments on irrelevant blogs with a link back to your site; that is just straight-up spam, as is leaving links in forum posts that don’t add value.

That said, you can still earn traffic from well thought out and relevant comments and forum posts, but this comes when you approach the tactic as a way to add value to discussions and link only when it adds value. 

5. Reciprocal Links

Reciprocal links — you link to me, and I’ll link to you — are another tactic that is outlined in Google’s definition of link schemes and violations of the guidelines, but that is when it is done at scale.

If you have got an opportunity to link to and send referral traffic to a partner in your industry, and they will do the same in return, it is not going to harm you.

Just don’t go exchanging links without considering relevancy and the context. 

Link Earning Tactics

Earned links are like the holy grail of link building.

Why? Because someone is making a conscious decision to link specifically to your website, rather than anyone else’s. 

Using link earning tactics is a way to gain a competitive advantage and land links that your competitors could only dream of — and that they will struggle to replicate.

These are very much advanced tactics, but ones that deliver the best results if you are prepared to put in the effort to learn how to leverage them for success. 

1. Digital PR

Fast becoming the go-to link building tactic for many SEOs, digital PR came about as a way to earn high authority links from press publications by using PR tactics. 

Quite simply, it is the most effective way to naturally earn significant numbers of high-quality editorial links, at scale, and involves creating engaging linkable content assets and using PR pitching and outreach to persuade journalists to cover these stories in their articles and link back to the source.

But there is more than one way to run a successful digital PR campaign, and we will look at four of the most effective approaches.

Data-Driven Studies

Example of a data set publishers could use for link building

When you build a digital PR campaign around data, you are ensuring that you have got a wealth of engaging stories to pitch to the press. 

The most attractive stories and pitches to journalists are those that include something that they couldn’t easily do themselves. They are busy people, often tasked with writing 7 or 8 articles per day; and that includes sourcing quotes, images, producing copy, and more. 

  • Using data means you are sharing unique stories that are backed by findings from a study or research piece, and journalists absolutely love this.
  • Data sources to use in your campaigns can range from your own internal data through to trusted third-party public data sets, such as those from data.gov — the US government’s home of open data.

For inspiration, check out this study into the world’s hardest working musicians by a music college that analyzes tour date data from Setlist.fm for the most popular Billboard artists to reveal which artists toured the most and played the higher number of shows.

This digital PR campaign earned links from over 30 publications.

Infographics

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A few years ago infographics made it really easy to earn links from top-tier press publications. In fact, even simple ‘how to…’ infographics could relatively easily pick up significant numbers of links with just a little bit of outreach effort.

Times have changed, and you are unlikely to see much of an impact with simple advice-led and opinion-led infographics (think how-tos and listicles, etc.), but that doesn’t mean infographics aren’t still effective. 

Things to Remember:

  • There just needs to be a story.
  • The infographic should be used as a simple way to visualize your content in an easy-to-share way. 
  • An infographic is just a format, but when used as a way to tell a story, you can still see success.

As an example, this simple infographic that reveals the potential Instagram earnings of the Too Hot To Handle cast has been featured on top-tier publications, including Daily Mail and OK.

Surveys

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If you are looking for a way to launch a digital PR campaign that gets people talking, surveys can be a great way to find out the public’s perception of a topic. 

Aligning more to traditional PR tactics, yet still, a way to land coverage and earn links from the press, you can poll the public through platforms such as OnePoll and Pollfish.

Just be sure to write up your findings (and ideally visualize them) as a content asset, rather than simply just pitching out the results as a press release, as a way to ensure you earn links and not just brand mentions.

Interactive Assets & Tools

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If you have the resources to do so, launching interactive assets and tools can be a fantastic way to earn high-quality links from the press in impressive numbers.

Just check out this simple tool that lets you calculate your potential earnings as an Instagram influencer that has been linked to more than 300 times.

When you create an engaging, interactive tool or piece of content, you essentially making a link an essential part of the story.

Imagine a journalist mentioning a great tool but not linking to it. It wouldn’t make sense, would it? By making links a vital part of the story, you are working to maximize links and minimize brand mentions. 

2. Resource Link Building

resource page link building example

Sometimes, you don’t need to create assets, studies, or data-driven campaigns to earn links.

If you can identify where your business itself can add value to your audience, you can leverage this to build links from resource pages, with great examples being those from travel and tourism boards, universities, and local governments.

Competitor analysis can often help you to find resources that are linking to your competitors but not to you, and you can then take this one step further to search for similar opportunities yourself.

See this page of career resources from Oxford Universities? 

It includes a number of external links to job boards and recruitment specialists, making it a perfect target for those working in that sector. 

You just need to make sure that the link that you propose adds value to the page, that could be either through a content piece or guide or simply your business’ core offering.

3. Case Studies & Testimonials

testimonial link building example

Using case studies and testimonials can be a great way to earn links simply by writing a short summary of why you love the product or service.

This tactic is often based around existing relationships and offering to share your thoughts on their offering to help them to sell more or even just giving their permission to feature you, but in doing so, you will often land a link in return, with a great example being Squarespace’s customer testimonial pages.

4. HARO & #journorequest

If you are not monitoring HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and the #journorequest hashtag on Twitter, you could be missing out on opportunities to land press coverage (and links) for your client or business. 

Every day, journalists and content creators turn to these platforms to find sources for their articles.

Submit a Query - Reporter Center - Help a Reporter Out

They are looking for businesses just like yours to add value and expert-led insights into their content, and it is a tactic that you should be taking advantage of.

With HARO, you will receive three emails each day, Monday to Friday, that include categorized requests (or those just from a category you have requested to receive notifications for).

If you believe that you could provide a great response to the request, go ahead and send it over. 

You won’t find all of your responses are used, but it is a relatively low-effort tactic that can drive big results in terms of landing authority links. Just make sure you are only responding to requests where you can truly provide expert comment.

#journorequest works in a similar way, rather with journalists using the hashtag on Twitter to obtain sources.

To learn more about how to use HARO to build links with success, here is a great guide for you to check out.

5. Newsjacking

Reactive PR, or as it is also known newsjacking, is a technique used by PRs which involves reacting to breaking news stories quickly, and spotting opportunities where you or your client can provide credible comment on that topic or story. 

The term “newsjacking” was popularized by David Meerman Scott and basically involves brands ‘piggybacking’ off news stories to direct attention to a piece of content, or to earn coverage or links for a brand’s homepage. 

Newsjacking is all about being quick to react and ensuring that you are not trying to shoehorn a comment or piece of content to relate to a news story that isn’t relevant to your brand.

6. The Skyscraper (& Reverse Skyscraper) Technique

The Skyscraper Technique is one that was coined by Brian Dean of Backlinko, and it has gained immense traction within the SEO and link building community in recent years.

You can read a full tutorial on how to use the tactic here, but it involves three steps:

  • Finding link-worthy content that has performed well.
  • Producing a piece of content that is even better than the original.
  • Reaching out to people who covered it and asking them to link to your improved resource.

It is based around creating the best piece of content on a topic and leveraging it to steal links from those whose content you have improved upon.  

Brian has even produced a great video to walk you through the steps of using the tactic.

But what is not often covered when people talk about the Skyscraper Technique is what could be referred to as the reverse Skyscraper technique. 

It is based on a similar principle, but rather than finding content that performed well, why not look for content that didn’t perform well but that has the potential to. Essentially, pieces that could be great, but that were executed badly. 

Then, go ahead and create the best piece of content around this topic and tell relevant webmasters and publishers about it.

7. Content Round-Ups

Have you created a great post as part of your content marketing strategy?

It is not uncommon to find content round-ups in pretty much any industry. In fact, there are even monthly round-ups in the digital PR and SEO industry, such as Content, Curated, and The Weekly SEO.

Essentially, round-ups are just lists of the best content in a sector over a period, and they are often pretty easy to find using search operators on Google, such as:

  • “Keyword” + intitle:“weekly roundup”
  • “Keyword” + intitle:“roundup”
  • “Keyword” + inurl:roundup
  • “Keyword” + “best blogs of the week”

You will need to make sure you have already created great content that is worth being featured and reach out to suggest it for inclusion. 

8. Interviews

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If you have got an industry expert within your business or your client’s business, securing interviews with industry-specific publications can be a great way to not only earn a relevant link but also to position them as a thought leader within the space.

Here is a great example from Small Business Trends for you to get an idea as to how the tactic works in practice.

Google search operators are a great help in finding these opportunities and don’t just limit yourself to written interviews. Videos and podcasts are also great and will often be accompanied with a link back to the guest’s website. 

9. Expert Round-Ups

Example of expert roundup

Despite being a tactic that was done to death a few years back, expert round-ups can still be a great way to earn links.

You will need to round up a series of experts within your industry (it is almost like a reverse content round-up, where you are the one creating the content) and pose a series of questions to them and turn it into an engaging piece of content that collates the opinions and insights of industry leaders.

Once you hit publish, go ahead and let everyone who contributed know that it is live, and pitch key headlines and insights to the press and other relevant publishers. 

You will naturally find that some of the experts who contributed will link to it from their ‘as seen in the press page or similar, and there’s also often interesting angles and debates that industry publications love. 

Here is a great example where experts shared their Google Shopping tips that earned 13 links. 

So long as you choose the right experts, who have some level of credibility, it is still a great tactic to use, while also helping to position your brand as thought leaders. 

Paid Link Building Tactics

To be clear, any links that are paid for violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines unless they are marked using either rel=”nofollow” or rel=”sponsored” attributes to prevent them from passing PageRank. We have already highlighted the risks of paid links, which are used as a lazy tactic, and we won’t be sharing these here.

That said, there is still an opportunity to use paid links to build your brand and earn referral traffic, which is what these tactics are intended for.

1. Sponsored Blog Posts

Let’s say there is an influential blogger in your industry who has made a name for themselves and earns thousands of page views every month from your target audience.

It is unlikely that they are going to link to you (at least upon your request) for free. Why would they? They have spent time building an audience, and they are not going to give that exposure away for nothing.

You might want to work with influencers in this way to publish a sponsored piece of content or blog post. Essentially, where they will feature and link to your business in return for payment.

  • This can be great at exposing you to new audiences and earning referral traffic.
  • Make sure that the link uses the rel=”sponsored” attribute to clearly mark that it is a paid collaboration.
  • Advertorials with top-tier news publications work in the same way.
  • These aren’t links for SEO, rather links for exposure and brand building.

2. Gifted Product Reviews

You are maybe not aware, but in the eyes of Google, links that are earned as a result of a product being gifted to a reviewer are classed as being paid. 

Whilst there is no money changing hands, there is an implied transaction to the value of the product. 

Similar to sponsored blog posts, gifting products to influencers can be a great way to expose your brand to new audiences, just make sure that any links include a rel=”sponsored” attribute. 

3. Sponsorship

Sponsoring a local sports team, meetup event, or conference, as an example, is also a tactic that is fairly commonly used to build links.

It is unusual for sponsored not to be featured and linked to in these instances, and again they fall into a grey area.

Just make sure that the event or organization that you’re sponsoring aligns with your business, and you will enjoy benefits aside from just a link, but if you are only sponsoring as a way to land a link, you need to ask yourself whether that investment could be better spent elsewhere, especially if the links you will get don’t topically align.

4. Scholarships

scholarship links

Offering scholarships as a way to build links is another tactic that’s been abused and, indirectly, it is a paid link building tactic. 

It simply involves putting together a reasonably-sized scholarship fund (think $1,000 +) and listing the requirements and offering on a dedicated page on your site, before reaching out to colleges and universities that list current scholarships and hoping that they link out. 

It is popular because it is a proven way to land links from educational institutions and those you wouldn’t normally get links from, but it is one that has been abused and overused in recent years. 

This fits very much into the ‘grey hat’ category as, whilst you are not paying directly for a link, it is the primary reason why you are setting up a scholarship fund. 

Just be sure not to abuse the tactic, and it can still help you to build some great links. 

Starbucks’ scholarship page, as an example, has earned links from over 700 unique domains.

How to Use Outreach for Link Building

In almost all link building strategies that you will use, you are going to need to use email outreach as a way to open up opportunities and discussions and to actually land the links.

From pitching to the press to running an outreach campaign to land guest posting opportunities, it is all different variants on the same process. 

To truly master link building, you will need to get good at outreach (or work with someone who is).

What is Outreach?

Outreach for link building is simply when you identify people in your industry (be that influencers, journalists, bloggers or webmasters) that might be interested in linking to you and reaching out to them to build a relationship and explore opportunities for them to cover your content.

But content can mean many different things.

It might be that you’re outreaching to offer exclusive interviews with your company’s CEO, your latest data-led digital PR campaign, or to pitch guest post ideas. 

Outreach is simply the process of finding and connecting with those potential prospects who might link to you. 

Top Tips for Successful Outreach

There are a few key elements of successful outreach and, while it is a detailed topic that’s covered in-depth in guides like this, you need to focus on:

  • Finding and identifying the right prospects.
  • Writing engaging subject lines that see your emails actually get opened.
  • Writing convincing outreach emails that encourage the recipient to take action.

It is a process that easily lends itself to testing out approaches of your own, and that should be tailored to the specific link building tactic you are using.

Always be sure to personalize outreach emails and clearly outline the action that you want them to take is.

Are you wanting them to add a link to an existing article, cover your story for the publication they write for, accept your guest post proposal? Be sure to make it clear.

In fact, a 2019 study by Fractl highlighted the value that publishers see in pitches:

publisher survey
Study conducted by Fractl

Outreach is very much a tactic that is vital to helping you build and earn great links, it just takes time to perfect your approach.

However, one thing that underpins the success of any outreach campaign is the quality of your outreach list. It is important that you are prepared to put in the time and effort to find the right prospects, using tactics such as:

  • Analyzing your competitors’ backlink profile.
  • Finding journalists who covered other stories in your industry through Google news.
  • Using a media database to find relevant prospects.

Building a smaller, but targeted, outreach list often drives better results than larger lists that often feel like you’re throwing as much as possible against a wall and hoping something sticks.

Do your research and know the way that your outreach pitch adds value to the recipient. 

3 Easy Ways to Discover Link Building Opportunities

We have been through a whole load of link building tactics, and hopefully, you have now got some ideas on how to use these to build great links.

But how do you get started finding opportunities?

1. Using Google Search Operators

Whether you are looking to use guest posting, link round-ups, or even niche directories, Google is often the best place to start.

You will not need any tools, and you can usually find tonnes of opportunities in just minutes.

You can then use search operators to return the results and opportunities that you Are looking to find.

Looking to write guest posts? Try these:

  • [keyword] intitle:“become a contributor”
  • [keyword] intitle:”write for us”
  • [keyword] intitle:”guest post”
  • [keyword] inurl:”writer-guidelines”

Want to find content round-ups to share your latest piece with? Try these:

  • [keyword] intitle:”round up”
  • [keyword] intitle:”weekly round up”
  • [keyword] “best blogs of the month”

Or to find resource link opportunities, try these:

  • [keyword] (intitle:”resources”| inurl:resources)
  • [keyword] intitle:”useful links”
search operators for link building

2. Run a Backlink Gap Analysis

You can use the SEMrush backlink gap tool to find opportunities to land links that your competitors have but that you don’t.

backlink gap

In fact, it is a great way to identify the links that could be helping your competitors to rank and, if there is a link in place to them, there is a good chance you will also be able to grab a link from the same site.

Add up to five competitors to the tool, and you will even see recommendations made to help you analyze more links.

backlink gap results

You will then be served a goldmine of insights into your competitors’ link profile, including those who have earned the most links, the Authority Score (AS) of each, and which sites have landed links from the domain.

This is a really quick and easy way to find prospects where you have got an increased chance of landing a link, as well as giving you the insights needed to reverse engineer your competitors’ strategies to figure out the tactics they are using to build links. 

3. Find Your Competitors’ Most Linked-To Pages 

Whether you are looking to use the Skyscraper technique to create an awesome piece of content and steal links from your competitors’ page, having the insights around the types of content that your competitors (and others in your industry, even if they are not a direct competitor) are using to earn links is valuable to help shape your own strategy.

If others in your sector are using data-driven digital PR assets, you should be doing the same to attain links of a similar quality (or better), as an example.

You can find the pages on other sites that have been linked to the most using our Backlink Analytics tool, heading to the indexed pages tab and sort by the number of referring domains.

You will now see the site’s most linked-to pages. 

how to find most linked to pages

You need to use common sense and skip past ‘policy’ pages, and the like, but it offers some insights that you could be using in your campaigns. 

Metrics to Measure the Success of Link Building

The success of a link building campaign can look like different things to different people.  

It all comes down to the goals of your campaign. However, it is important that you understand the metrics that should be considered when setting these goals.

It is dangerous to focus on the raw numbers of links built as you will find that this sacrifices quality. And, you need to be using competitor insights to determine the link gap between you and others and make sure you are building the right links that actually increase your rankings.

But when looking at metrics, you want to consider using one or more the following:

  • Authority Score (SEMrush’s own metric that grades the overall quality of a website and tells you how impactful a backlink from a site can be for your SEO).
  • The ratio of follow to nofollow links (Ideally, your link profile will contain far more follow links than nofollow links).
  • Topical relevance (How closely aligned to your business are the sites that you’re landing links from? Links that come from closely aligned content are typically more value).
  • Unique referring domains (You don’t want to be just earning links from the same domains all the time and should focus on increasing the number of unique referring sites in your link profile).
  • Toxic links (This is another SEMrush metric that indicates whether a link could pose a risk to your site’s rankings. You ideally don’t want any toxic links in your link profile, but if you do, you will need to clean them up).

You may also want to consider goals such as brand exposure, links, and placements on certain publications, referral traffic, and more — it is all about measuring those things that matter to you as a business. 


Go Ahead and Start Building Better Links!

Now that you have been given detailed insights into the link building tactics that work and those that do not in 2020, it is time to get started. 

If you have never built links before, hopefully, you are now eager to get started and are looking forward to landing your first link. If you have been link building for years, hopefully, you have been inspired to try out a new tactic.

No one ever said that link building was easy because it is not, and the tactics that you should be using continue to evolve.

But we hope that by having a whole host of approaches at hand, you can ensure you are building a diverse link profile and maximizing opportunities that come from all different angles. 

Become a better link builder, and you will be in demand. It is the tactic that most SEOs find the most difficult, and any proven successes you can showcase make you all the more valuable to potential clients or employers. 

Happy link building!

Link Building Explained: White hat, Black hat, and Grey hat Tactics

Link building practices can be identified by three distinct colors and caps. But what exactly do these different link building terminologies mean? What is the difference between a white hat and a black hat? Why does it matter what color the hat is?

Types of SEO: How They Impact Your Business

If you are new to SEO and, more specifically, link building, you may have come across references to black hat, grey hat, and black hat tactics.

These need addressing, even though we will look at some of these approaches in more depth further into this guide.

What is white hat SEO?

Quite simply, white hat SEO refers to the usage of SEO strategies that strictly abide by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and take an ethical approach to earn top-ranking positions. It places a strong focus on optimizing for human audiences and is seen as a long-term approach to earn sustained visibility on the search engines. 

The focus here is on providing users with the best search engine results. I.e., you prioritize the user over anything else.

As a white-hat, you will generally:

  • Play by Google’s rules (they’re pretty clear about these in their guidelines);
  • Optimise for humans not search engines;
  • Create quality content that people actively want to read and share;
  • Create a website that stands out from others in your niche (for the right reasons!)

Some of the main qualities of white hat SEO techniques include:

  • Fresh, relevant content
  • Link building from relevant industry sources
  • Optimized image labels
  • Relevant page titles and tags
  • Natural keyword density

What is black hat SEO?

On the flipside, there is black-hat SEO. This is considered to be the ‘opposite’ of white-hat SEO.

Black-hat mentality focuses on finding and exploiting algorithmic loopholes.

Many of these loopholes don’t hurt anyone, except your competitors. But some of them are incredibly unethical, such as hacking into websites to inject backlinks.

As a black-hat, you may:

  • Break (or at least ‘bend’) Google’s guidelines;
  • Focus on search engines over users;
  • Attempt to deceive users with things like cloaking and doorway pages;
  • Hack into peoples’ websites.

Some of the main qualities of white hat SEO techniques include:

  • Duplicate content, non-relevant content
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Link farming
  • Cloaking links or invisible text
  • Redirecting to another site or page
  • Blog comment spams

Black hat SEO users violate the Google guidelines and try to rank a site higher with manipulative tactics, usually looking to gain quick wins. Black hat SEO is usually frowned upon, and can actually hurt your site rankings if you are not cautious of your link building practices. Google employs a webspam team whose core focus is to ensure that websites using black hat tactics do not rank.

Why you shouldn’t consider blackhat SEO

  • Black-hat SEO is more expensive than ever before: Google is much smarter than it used to be; blatantly spammy, low-cost tactics—e.g., keyword stuffing—are no longer effective. So as a black-hat, your only option is to turn to more expensive tactics, such as building a PBN. And when you take into account the costs of doing this correctly (i.e., buying many expired domains, dedicated hosting, private whois, etc.), black-hat SEO can get real expensive real quick.
  • Black-hat SEO is VERY risky: Nobody wants a Google penalty. But if you go down the black-hat route, there’s a decent chance you’ll get one. It, therefore, seems the obvious (and only) choice to many, ourselves included.
  • Black-hat SEO requires some level of “technical knowledge”: If you go down the black-hat route, you won’t get too far unless you have a profound and detailed understanding of how the web works and how you can exploit that knowledge to your advantage. Most of this knowledge is not shared publicly, which means that many people don’t see black-hat SEO as a viable option.

What is grey hat SEO?

Grey hat SEO sits somewhere in the middle, using tactics that could be seen as manipulative and are riskier than white hat tactics, yet aren’t as obvious a violation of Google’s terms than black hat. As grey hat SEO practices are riskier than white hat SEO practices, there is still a questionable risk associated with grey hat SEO practices.

Generally, Gray Hat SEO practices belong in neither the Black Hat nor White Hat category because the terms of service regarding the issue are unclear.

Gray Hat SEO is difficult to define. In the words of SEO Consultant John Andrews: 

Gray Hat SEO is not something between Black Hat and White Hat, but rather “the practice of tactics/techniques which remain ill-defined by published material coming out of Google, and for which reasonable people could disagree on how the tactics support or contrast with the spirit of Google’s published guidelines.”

-John Andrews, SEO Consultant

Common Grey hat SEO Practices

Note: these practices could be questionable and haven’t been fully defined in Google’s terms of service. Do further research on the results and experiments of these grey hat SEO strategies on Google’s search engine results page before trying these strategies:

  • Domain grabbing: Domain Grabbing is the process of buying expired domains and linking it to your website. This practice is popular for those who want to improve their back link profiles fast and easy and accelerate the process of ranking on the search engine results page. Simply done, check if the domain you are buying has good backlinks, and then do a 301 redirect of the whole domain to your website.
  • Link building in web 2.0 websites: Web 2.0 websites posses the capability for users have the ability to collaborate with the webmasters. For Google, links where users have the control of its approval, anchor text, placement, etc. is unethical. However, the purpose of Web 2.0 sites is collaboration and reward people who contribute by allowing them to link out to their own websites or resources.Examples of Web 2.0 are Wikipedia, Quora, Medium, WikiHow, and Reddit. 
  • Link exchanging: Generally, link exchanges are fine. If both webmasters have content related to each other, why not link to each other as resources right? It is when people abuse this strategy that it goes bad. To Google, the most ideal way of getting a link is organic, people read your content, people like your content, people link to your content and it makes sense. Don’t overdo your link exchanging, and you’ll be fine!
  • Social bookmarking: Social bookmarking websites are places that allow users to submit and share their content for promotion and bookmark other content that fits their interest for later reading. Websites like Folkd and Mix (formerly StumbleUpon) are popular because not only can you dump your links around but could also get some referral traffic.

The Ultimate Growth Marketing Guide For Beginners

Growth marketing, growth hacking, you’ve always heard it, but what does it actually mean? In such a crowded environment, it can be hard for any company to stand out and scale their user base to millions.

In order to break through the noise, it’s become increasingly important to have a marketing strategy that is creative, iterative, and compelling. A strategy that not only helps with customer acquisition, but one that is a breeding ground for vitality, word of mouth, and organic growth.

This new and powerful way of building a loyal user base has a name: growth marketing.

Let’s take a look at what growth marketing, growth hacking entails and see what it takes to become a successful growth marketer.

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth marketing is marketing 2.0. It takes the traditional marketing model and adds layers such as creative ad copy, A/B testing, data-driven email marketing campaigns, SEO optimization, value-additive blog posts, and technical analysis of every aspect of a user’s experience. The insights gained from these strategies are quickly implemented in order to achieve robust and sustainable growth.

A growth marketer is often a T-shaped marketer — with strong base knowledge, foundation, and depth.

First, establish a strong base knowledge of essential marketing strategies such as: behavior psychology, storytelling, data & analytics, research, design & UX, brand & positioning.

It is essential to have a strong understanding of the basic topics of marketing in order to continue your growth, and develop a stronger marketing strategy.

Secondly, by establishing a strong marketing foundation, your essential marketing skills are elevated and your returns on marketing material will continue to improve. Skills to look out for when considering your marketing foundations: copy-writing, Sketch, Canva, Wireframe, A/B Testing, Video, Statistics & Excel, Funnel Marketing, HTML & CSS, Customer Experience.

As your depth of knowledge in the marketing sphere increases, you’ll continue to develop these essential marketing skills into a channel expertise. What is a channel expertise? It can vary depending on your specific intuition, however some common channel expertise categories in marketing are:

  • business development
  • community moderation
  • conversion rate marketing
  • email marketing
  • event marketing
  • content marketing
  • search engine optimization (SEO)
  • search engine marketing (SEM)
  • multimedia
  • paid advertising
  • partnership marketing
  • public relations and press releases
  • social media marketing
  • viral marketing

Qualities of Successful Growth Marketers

The best growth marketers are known to be:

Data Driven

The days of making decisions based on gut feeling are over. Ditto to making decisions based solely on the using the HiPPO strategy (highest paid person’s opinion). The modern growth marketer dives deep into the data to figure out what strategies are working and is comfortable using all the tools that allow for such analysis.

Creative

The best growth marketers are willing to think creatively. They never say “it’s never been done before, so why try?”

If that was the attitude Airbnb had when they were trying to grow, they never would have come up with the idea of providing free professional photography services to each and every person listing on their site. What some thought was crazy or unnecessary turned out to be a fantastic engine for driving their growth.

Product Focused

An axiom of the sales world is that you can’t sell a product you don’t understand. Seeing as growth marketers are also in the business of selling and evangelizing, the same rule applies. Your goal is not to trick people into buying something they don’t want, but rather to elucidate the many benefits of a valuable product that you truly believe will help people.

Posses a Hacker Mentality

A growth marketer needs to be a jack of all trades. On any given day you might be creating a video, optimizing ad copy, implementing a new A/B test, or even doing some coding. The more and varied your skill set, the more you can add to an organization (especially at an early stage).

Has No Fear of Failure

Successful growth marketers believe that a failed experiment is not a bad thing. In fact, failure is the quickest way to gain valuable information.  

No growth marketer is clairvoyant. You must be open to attempting anything and everything to see what works. You will eventually hit on things that succeed, and then you optimize those and continue the process.

Knows How to Tell a Story

All the data in the world won’t help you figure out how to truly connect with your users. You must have the ability to synthesize both quantitative and qualitative information into a compelling story that resonates with your potential customers.

Can Juggle Multiple Responsibilities

An effective growth marketer needs to be a contradiction of sorts.

Details obsessed but keeps the big picture in mind. Results driven but comfortable with ambiguity. Measures everything and trusts the data but also values human intuition.

What Makes Growth Marketing Different?

Traditional marketing involves “set it and forget it” strategies that burn through a set budget and hope for the best. Think Google Adwords and display campaigns with some basic ad copy. These strategies can be a great way to build traffic to the top of your sales funnel, aiding to increase a company’s awareness and user acquisition, but that’s where the value dwindles.

Growth marketing goes beyond the top of the funnel.

When done right, it adds value all the way through the marketing funnel by attracting users, engaging them, retaining them, and finally turning them into champions for your brand.

Growth focuses on the full funnel — while marketing usually focuses on top of funnel.

These data-driven marketers are highly involved in shaping a strategy, trying new experiments, and failing fast to quickly zero in on what works.

But growth marketing is also a stochastic process, like biological evolution. This means there is an element of randomness to the strategies that might work. The only way to be certain what will be a fruitful road to go down is to start throwing things at the wall and see what sticks.

What Types of Companies Hire Growth Marketers?

Many types of companies are in the business of building growth marketing teams, but most of the opportunities will be found at either established technology companies or emerging technology startups.

By looking at a sample job postings from each type of company, we can see the kind of candidate that each stage of the company is looking for.

First, let’s look at the responsibilities for two roles at two companies looking to hire a growth marketer and a growth hacker:


Take a look at both job descriptions and see if you notice any similarities between a growth marketer and a growth hacker.

There growth marketing job descriptions have more similarities than differences. Both companies want the candidates to have strategic skills and passion for data analytics.

The difference seems to mainly center on the smaller company wanting someone who will launch and scale something from the ground up. From the job posting, it’s implied that you will have slightly fewer resources, but probably slightly more freedom.  This is likely to be typical of any growth marketing role for a company that has yet to firmly establish itself as an industry leader.

Growth Marketing vs. Growth Hacking

While the terms “Growth Marketing” and “Growth Hacking” are often used interchangeably, there are some subtle differences between these roles at many companies.

Growth hackers are more like expert consultants brought on to solve a specific problem, and to solve it fast. They are tasked, often on a small budget, with finding creative solutions to tough problems. To a growth hacker, speed is everything, and problems need to be solved yesterday.

Growth marketers tend to take a longer-term approach.  They have to strategize on how to scale many different SaaS growth metrics across many different dimensions, and how to do so sustainably.  

Growth hacks can be thought of as akin to day trading in the stock market. Sure, you can make money like that, but it’s not necessarily going to be a stable source of income for the long term.

An effective growth marketing process distills the best attributes of growth hacking (namely, the desire to think outside the box to gain traction) down into a sustainable practice based on rock solid principles. In that way, growth marketing is the opposite of day trading — it’s investing for the long term based on data-driven metrics that are always being optimized.

Important Goals & Measurements for a Growth Marketer

So, what are the basics of growth marketing?

Goal: Get Traffic to Your Site

A major one goal of any growth marketing manager will be to boost traffic numbers. This is done in a variety of ways.

Organic Traffic

These are the users who arrive at your site after performing a search with a major search engine. In order to optimize organic traffic, you want to do all the things that help you rank near the top of the search results. This includes sharing your quality content with other sites so that you build up inbound links and producing content that has been thoroughly search engine optimized.

An example of an organic growth hack is how Nerdwallet used a survey on emotional overspending to drive organic traffic to their site, and pitch other sites to include backlinks to the post. They were able to successfully secure links from The Simple Dollar, QuickenLoans, Yahoo, and Fidelity.

SEO analysis from Ahrefs of backlinks to the survey conducted by Nerdwallet.

Paid Traffic

These are the users that come to your site via your advertising channels. You want to monitor how much you are spending, the number of impressions your ads are generating, and the CPA (cost per acquisition).

Lately, more and more companies have been experimenting with native advertising, which involves non-traditional ad placements that are made to look like they are more content focused. Dollar Shave Club would be the folks to emulate when trying experiments in the native space, as they leveraged that medium with great success.

An example of native ads used by Dollar Shave Club.

Referral Traffic

This is any and all traffic that does not come from a major search engine. So, social media traffic as well as all the other sites linking to your content.

If you are doing things right, people will start sharing and talking about your content simply because they are naturally inclined to do so. This is the definition of viral content. Tracking the volume and source of all referral traffic will help you to optimize in this regard.

You can use competitive analysis to gain an edge, such as monitoring your competitors’ engagement spikes on social media and then trying to reverse engineer their success.

Publishing guest blog posts can also be a great way of building referral traffic.

On-site metrics

It’s always critical to know what’s actually happening on your site. You want to know where your visitors are coming from, what actions they are taking, and how long they are spending on the site. Another important number to monitor is your bounce rate, as it’s a great indicator of the relevance of your content or landing page.

Goal: Get Leads & Improve Conversion Rate

All the visitors in the world don’t mean anything if they aren’t being converted into new users. Here are the key areas to optimize.

Conversion Rate

What is the overall conversion rate of people coming to your site through any avenue? You should give extra scrutiny to any pages that have significant drop-offs compared with other parts of the site.

Hubspot experimented with different website designs and found one that doubled their overall conversion rates.

Landing Page Conversion Rates

What is the conversion rate of users who hit your main landing page? There are many ways to optimize here, such as tinkering with copy,  design, and layout.

An interesting area to experiment is in length of the headline for content you display on a landing page. For example, it’s been shown that shorter, punchier headlines generally perform better.

See how Doordash, effectively communicates for drivers to sign up with the short, catchy headline “Bring home the bacon.”

Blog/Email Subscribers

Are you producing compelling content that people actually want to read? That needs to be your first priority. For an example of a company blog that people genuinely love and get a lot of value out of, go explore the blog of SEO company Moz. They craft long-form content that many people would pay for, but Moz gives it away for free.

If you are already creating good content, you then want to make sure it is driving the actions you want? You can figure this out by analyzing things such as the click-through rate, subscriber growth, and shares.

Increase free trials to paid plans

If you have a freemium product, you ultimately want to convert users on free trials into paying customers.

A great example is how the growth marketers at DocuSign leveraged tracking technology to expose certain premium features to only a unique subset of users. Their tests allowed them to know exactly what features to show, and their experiment resulted in a 5% lift in upgrade conversions.

Goal: Retain Customers

Reduce Churn

Churn refers to the percentage of users who sign up for your service but then stop using it. This is an especially critical metrics for SaaS companies in growth mode because churn is the archenemy of exponential growth. If you are losing a significant portion of your customers, you simply won’t be able to achieve the critical mass of users you need to start making serious revenue.

Analyze every aspect of why users stop using the service and ruthlessly iterate to plug the holes. One area that could be tripping you up? User interface. Make sure it’s smooth and seamless, or people will leave.

Increase Average Order Value

By tracking and analyzing user behavior, you can start to target them in ways that will increase the average order value. Areas to look into include bundling, targeting customers based on past behavior, and upselling.

Increase Lifetime Value

Once you have a customer on board, how do you maximize the value you get from them? Strategies might include conducting user surveys to find new features people want, encouraging customers to switch to an annual billing cycle, or providing targeted, premium, customer service.

Goal: Build a Brand

Once you have a  company that is trusted, reliable, and provides a great user experience, you can leverage that into building a true brand. Meaning, your name can become synonymous with quality in that particular industry.

It starts by building a great company culture. Then, the process of brand building can be helped along with a smart PR campaign, influencer marketing, positive word of mouth, and referral programs.

Companies Known for Growth Marketing Excellence

Canvas Web Style Guide: Brand Guidelines
Hubspot-logo

Hubspot — they are basically a household name in this space, with over 40,000 happy customers. They provide tools for everything from blogging to marketing automation to lead management, and their long-form content on their blog is second to none.

Intercom Vector Logo | Free Download - (.SVG + .PNG) format ...
Intercom-Logo

Intercom — they are the masters of messaging, expertly using bots and live chat to engage users from the second they land on site. Like HubSpot, they are happy to lay out their strategies on growth marketing in an array of engaging handbooks.

The Ideal Consulting Logo For 2019 (20+ Logo Ideas From Real ...
proof-logo

Proof — As the industry leaders in using social proof to drive conversions, we are proud to share our deep knowledge of this new space on our blog. Some of our favorite posts cover why social proof matters and new ways to maximize conversion rates.

Marketing Automation for the Whole Customer Lifecycle
Customer.io-logo

Customer.io — they are creating engaging blog content for all the email junkies out there. They have excellent posts detailing growth marketing email strategies covering topics such as writing upgrade emails that convert.

Forums and Communities to Check Out

GrowthHackers — This site is run by growth marketer du jour Sean Ellis, and it provides a place to talk strategy, come up with new ideas, and job hunt.

BAMF — The acronym stands for Bad Ass Marketers and Founders. As the name implies, it’s a place for enthusiastic growth marketers to chat, exchange information, and show each other support.

As long as you continue to learn, relentlessly test, and focus on telling a compelling story through data, you will find success in growth marketing. Good luck!

Ten Easy Tips to Increase Your Blog Traffic

Having trouble getting more traffic to your blog? Read lots of ‘ultimate guides’ and courses, but results didn’t show?

We’ve been using these strategies to grow our monthly blog following – switch up your current strategy, and learn about best blogging practices to increase traffic and reach new readers.

How did we do it? Here are ten tried and tested strategies that we used to increase our blog traffic:

Create in-depth content

Fun fact: the average #1 ranking page also ranks in the top 10 for nearly 1,000 other keywords!

This happens because Google understands that when people search for variations of the same topic, they’re all looking for the same thing. As a result, they often rank the same pages for lots of related long-tail queries.

In order to improve your chances of ranking for queries like this, create content that covers a topic in as much detail as possible.

Build an email list

Every time you publish a blog, you should be sending out a blog notification to your entire email list to notify them about new content. Make your website is set up so that people can opt-in to subscribe to hear about new posts and more.

Why email? Platforms like Facebook can deliberately limit your reach (the average organic reach on Facebook is around 1-6%). With email, you are able to communicate with your entire fan base at any time.

Building a list doesn’t have to be complicated – if you want to be aggressive with building your email list, try offering something useful, such as a PDF version of the post or a free 7-day course in exchange for their email.

Boost posts with internal links

What are internal links? Internal links are links from one page on the same website to another. If you can add internal links from relevant, high-authority pages to those that need a boost, that may help their performance in the search engines.

It’s really easy as well: look for pages that are ranking in positions #2-5 for their primary keyword. For these pages, a few powerful internal links can actually make a large difference.

After all, around 70% of first-page clicks go to the top 3 results.

Publish guest posts

Did you know that some of the best performing posts on a website are from guests? One of the benefits of guest posting is that you can tap into the expertise of others.

Guest posting is a win-win situation for both parties. The writer can get exposure and publicity on your blog, and the host will receive a high-quality piece of content to share on their website.

However, you shouldn’t accept all guest post inquiries. You should only be pursuing guest posts about topics with search traffic potential, then work with the author to create something that aligns with search intent and covers the topic in full. This way, the post stands a chance of ranking in Google and pulling passive traffic month after month.

Run ads

Ads don’t have to be super expensive. You can still get consistent clicks from Facebook ads for around $0.40 per click. When targeting other languages, you can get even lower ad rates, some as low as $0.10 per click.

Facebook isn’t the only place to purchase ads. Test around with Google, Bing, Twitter, Instagram, and other sites as well.

Create shareable images

Create high quality images to share with your readers in your blog content! Ultimately, producing a good combination of high quality images and text is the key to helping your content rank on the results page. Plus, people love images because they help improve information retention.

Even in a “boring” niche like SEO, Ahrefs was still able to get tons of engagement on their social media posts by adding images.

With tools like Canva, creating shareable images isn’t as difficult as it was before. If you’re in a visual-heavy niche like cooking or sports, grab your smartphone, take a few photos, and your social shares may see a sharp increase – especially on networks like Pinterest.

If you’re creating graphics and images on a budget, you can also look into outsourcing sites like Fiverr, where you can get low-cost graphic designs starting at only $5.

Match search intent

Search intent is the why behind the search query. Why does it matter?

Google aims to provide users with the most relevant results for their search queries. If you want to rank high on Google, you need to be the most relevant result for your searches – and that means your content aligns with the search intent.

Since Google is already delivering the kind of content people want to see, you can reverse-engineer search intent by looking at what is already ranking.

Most of the top-ranking pages are “how-to” articles on making french press coffee, so that’s what you should be writing about to stand a chance at ranking for this specific keyword.

Reach out to people you mention

If you’ve written an in-depth article, chances are you’ve linked to useful resources from other bloggers. An easy solution is just to reach out and let them know.

If you’re lucky, they’ll share it on their social profiles and send some extra traffic your way. The primary goal with this is to reach out and build a relationship. This may eventually help you further down the line, as it could become a partnership, more shares, more links, etc.

This is pretty simple to do as well: write your blog post, and then look for mentions of bloggers in your space. Then, find their email and reach out to let them know.

Promote content in relevant communities

Online communities are awesome for promoting content. People are already in one place, so all you have to do is persuade them to check out your content. Before posting in any relevant communities, please make sure that the content you are posting is relevant and useful for the community members. The purpose of posting your content to communities is to share your blog without advertising, if you are too aggressive with sharing your content, community members may become upset at you. You’re not limited to one community as well, you can tap into a bunch of different online networks:

  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Forums

Before you think about promoting anything in a group, join them, study their “culture”, and familiarize yourself with the rules of the community. Figure out what people typically discuss, what kind of posts get high engagement, and what posts aren’t allowed. Along the way, try to become an active member by leaving comments, participating in discussions, asking questions, and so on. If you’re active, the admin/moderator will notice that you’re actively contributing to the community.

This strategy should help you get in good standing with most communities. From there, you should be able to share your content without getting any backlash.

Answer questions on Quora

Quora is a Q&A site where anyone can ask questions or answer them.

Quora also has an audience of 300 million monthly unique users to tap into. But that’s not the coolest part… the best thing about Quora is that it ranks for millions of keywords in Google and gets ~88 million organic search visits per month.

If you can somehow find the questions that rank in Google, you can answer them and potentially earn referral traffic to your site. Ahref’s Site Explorer function can help you find relevant questions that receive the most search traffic.

After identifying top pages with traffic, the next step is just to answer as many relevant questions as you can. There is no short way to get this done, and answering the questions just requires knowledge and good copywriting skills.