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Three Ways to Evolve Your Link Building in 2023 — Whiteboard Friday


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The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Welcome to 2023! In the first Whiteboard Friday of the new year, Paddy walks through three methods to evolve your link building efforts — not reinventing the wheel, but by improving what you currently do.

infographic outlining Paddy's three methods for evolving your current link building efforts

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I’m Paddy Moogan. I’m the CEO of Aira. Today, we’re going to talk about link building and how to evolve your link building to its next phase and to improve what you do at the moment.

So we’re going to talk through three methods to improve your link building and evolve it and improve the results you get for clients. 

1. Use the customer journey to generate ideas

So firstly, number one, there is a bit of an issue sometimes with link building and the relevance of the content that we produce for link building. So one way we can actually improve that and make our content as relevant as possible is to use the customer journey to generate link building ideas.

Now, there’s lots of different ways of thinking about the customer journey, different funnels, different methodologies. One thing we use at Aira for this is the awareness, consideration, and decision phases, where the customer goes from being aware of the problem, the pain points, something they want to fix, then looking at their options and trying to figure out, “Okay, who should I choose to solve that problem?”

And then, finally, maybe getting their credit card out, picking up the phone, emailing, that kind of stuff to actually decide who they’re going to go with. Now, we can use this model to actually come up with link building ideas. I’m going to share how we do this at Aira. So there’s four pillars we can use to try and figure out content ideas that are relevant to our customers. Firstly, we start with the audience themselves.

So who are our audience? Who are we trying to speak to? Who are our ideal buyers for the products and services that we sell? So that’s where we start. We then move on to the pain points of our audience. So what kinds of things do they struggle with? What kind of triggers can actually make them start to look for a product such as yours or a service such as yours?

And then thirdly, what solutions do you offer as a brand or a website to try and fix those pain points for those customers and trying to connect those things together? Fourthly, what keywords are you trying to rank for? What are you trying to rank for in Google? How does that connect back to your service and your product? And what that allows you to do is to tie together these stages into actual rankings, actual keywords that you’re trying to improve with your link building and your content.

The nice thing about using these four areas to try and come up with content ideas for link building is that it forces relevance. It’s really hard to actually do this. If you stray too far away from it, you come up with ideas that aren’t very relevant. So if you stick really closer to it, it’s a bit harder. That’s kind of the point. What you’re trying to do here is strike that balance between ideas that can get links, but also content ideas that are very relevant to your audience and who you’re trying to sell your products or your services to.

So try and use these four points here to come up with your ideas, and make sure the ideas you come up with are truly relevant to your customer and not just being done purely for link building. 

2. Move beyond campaigns

Second point, second thing we can do to evolve our link building is to move beyond big, shiny, interactive link building campaigns. Now, we’ve built hundreds of these over the years at Aira. We will continue to build them.

I love a good, shiny, interactive hero campaign. But I believe there’s more we can do when it comes to content-led link building. So there’s four things we can do here. So firstly, try and make any campaigns, any content that you come up with evergreen. What I mean by that is it shouldn’t be a start and a stop campaign, where you launch a campaign, do your outreach, and then forget about it and move on to the next one.

Try and create ideas and campaigns that you can outreach and promote over and over and over again. If you can do that, it continues to be relevant throughout the year, across multiple years. It isn’t just a one-off campaign that you’re hoping will get links before you move on to the next one. The second thing you can do is actually not to stop the outreach. So most SEOs actually will outreach a campaign and then stop once that campaign is finished and move on to the next one.

What you should be trying to do instead is create campaigns that you can always outreach and always promote. So try not to stop your outreach, and what happens over time is you build up multiple campaigns, multiple content pieces, and you end up with a nice, big bank of content that you can continually outreach and get links to. It’s not relying upon one campaign after another to get links. 

3. Aim for links you didn’t ask for

Third point we can do is to look at existing content.

So again, when you’re thinking about creating link building campaigns, the natural tendency is to think of something new, to think about, “Okay, what can we create that’s brand new, hasn’t been done before, completely new campaign for a website or a client?” Well, actually, that’s absolutely fine, but there may be some existing content on that website that is link-worthy. So make sure, when you start working with a website or a new brand, look at what they’ve got already, see which content they’ve got that might be link-worthy, may have gotten links in the past, and try and outreach and promote that content whilst you’re building new campaigns.

This works really well particularly for agencies, because when you’re launching a campaign, it takes a bit of time to come up with ideas, do the production, do the design. Whilst you’re doing all of that, if you can find existing content on that website that is link-worthy, you can promote that and get links to that whilst you’re building the big campaign. And you’re offsetting the risk there as well and getting links in the short term as well as the long term.

Fourthly, simplify your execution. Not every content piece has to be big, shiny, interactive, full-page takeovers. It can be as simple as a blog post. It could be a small, mini infographic. Try not to worry too much about big, fancy executions. Let the idea lead the execution. And if that means that you write just a very, very simple blog post with a couple of images, maybe lots of copy and bullet points, that’s absolutely fine.

If that’s the best way to execute your idea, then that’s what you should go with and not worry too much about making something interactive or big just for the sake of it. So thirdly, the third thing we can do to elevate our link building is to aim for links that you didn’t ask for. So a lot of the time with link building techniques they rely upon outreach, and outreach means sending emails, trying to get in touch with webmasters and link prospects and get links from them.

That’s absolutely fine. We should continue doing that. But one place you want to try and get to is to create content where it naturally gets links on its own. So you may well do outreach and get links for that content. But as well as that, you’re also getting people who link to that content naturally, so you’re not relying too much just on the outreach. Now there’s three examples here of content you can create that actually will do this. Now the first thing to remember is actually content that ranks tends to get links, because when people are doing research into different areas and trying to write about certain industries, they may look for content they can also link to.

So, for example, if you have a page that’s about statistics and trends in your industry, and someone is writing an article about your industry and trends in 2022, if they find your content, there’s a good chance that they will link to it as well in the content they’re producing. But if it ranks, they’ve got more chance of finding it. The second area is long-form guides, really in-depth, really detailed content. If you can find some good topic ideas to write about in the long-form way, long-form guides tend to rank for a lot of long-tail and mid-tail keywords.

Again, if it ranks really well, it’s very detailed, very techy, this works really well for very technical products and very technical services. If you can create content about your product or service that’s quite technical, it’s got a good chance of ranking well and also being referenced and linked to by other websites. And thirdly, industry reports. So actually, we do this ourselves at Aira.

We produced a State of Link Building Report a few months ago. It’s a report that gets referenced a lot by our industry because it’s a standard in the industry for link building and people think of it when they’re writing their own content. So in your industry, if you can create industry benchmark reports, state of industry reports, surveys, that kind of stuff, that actually shares knowledge and shares information with the industry, it’s easy for people to reference that in their own content that they produce as well.

But again, it needs to rank well for people to find it in the first place. So there’s three ways to actually evolve your link building and try to elevate it to the next level beyond campaigns, beyond outreach, and actually trying to get links that you didn’t ask for. So that’s Whiteboard Friday for me. I’m Paddy Moogan. If you’ve got any questions, drop them into the comments below. I’ll be happy to get back to you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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