Eliseon's Marketing Wizards' Blog

Organic Link Building: Build Your Presence the All-Natural, No Preservatives Way

I’m sitting here listening to pounding beats of Goldfrapp’s “Crystalline Green”, and thinking about link building.  There are tons of  ways to build your presence on the Internet, but link building being the most dominant and frankly, one of the most important.  But doing it the organic way is highly underrated.

We love organic, as in all-natural, no preservatives or fillers added (there’s nothing like a 2 inch-thick, grass-fed and free range cut of ribeye)…but in respect to building links, we mean the non-paid type of organic.

Building organic links is hard work; it’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, but the pay-off is so worth it.  Organic links are the result of having good, useful content and are not from doing a link exchange…you know, the ‘I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine’ type of link-building mentality that is so rampant among many SEO-ers.

Google’s awesome anti-spam engineer, Matt Cutts, has been releasing a series of small Webmaster Help Videos in which he answers questions about search engine optimization and shares info that helps increase traffic to your site.  In this video he gives you a look at some of the most important and helpful ways to build organic links.

I’m putting the video in here, but if you want, you can skip watching it and just read below, as I’ve watched the video and extracted and listed the eight (8) most important points for you. (You’re welcome).

1. Controversy: Everyone Loves a Good Fight

Let’s be honest, shall we? Everyone – I don’t care what demographic they fall under – LOVES a good controversy. They lap it up like a malnourished kitten with a bowl of fresh cream.  When you complain…people listen. It’s human nature.  It’s not one of our greatest defining traits, but there it is none-the-less.  So why not use it to your advantage?

Matt adds that many people choose a company or person and find faults or pick on them and exaggerate the situation.  For example, sites like E!Online and Perez Hilton are known for their Hollywood gossip and celebrity-bashing.  They can make or break careers out in “Hell-A”…it’s sad, but true.

Creating a virtual ‘fire-storm’ is one of the easiest methods of organic link building, as it inevitably grabs eyeballs like a traffic accident.  But be careful about overdoing it.  Trash-talking sites may be entertaining, but they rarely produce paying customers or encourage loyalty and reciprocity. And if you start something, it’s a really smart idea to have facts or validated opinion to back it up. We’re not talking about mud-slinging or slandering, here. Just good old fashioned debate.

And be sure to give plenty of useful information to your visitors, as well, to help round out the buffet. Not everyone likes their food raw and angry.

Even Mr. Cutts’ is of the opinion that people get tired of just reading about controversies after a point. We know this to be true…after all, we all have that one friend, co-worker or relative that does nothing but complain — never a positive or uplifting word about anything or anyone. And eventually we totally tune them out and walk away.

You want to increase traffic, not annihilate it.

2.  Community Effort: You Get What You Give

Here Matt encourages you to check out forums and other types of online communities where people discuss news and products relevant to the subject matter of the post.

There is dizzying plethora of subject and niche-specific forums, networks and communities online…everything from software to strange fetishes.

There’s so much to learn from them, so it would be a big no-no to sign up and just spam them death. Remember what the great Monty Python said, “I Don’t Like Spam!!!!”  And honestly, who does?!?  When you sign up for an online discussion, be real and be honest.  If you don’t have anything to add to the discussion, don’t say anything – just observe.

My grammy always said “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.  Never were more truer words spoken. The same thing also applies in online discussions and forums.  That doesn’t mean all your comments have to be sugary sweet, but don’t be an ass either.

Whatever you say needs to add value to the discussion.  If you have answers to people’s questions, well then, by George, answer them! Answering a question you have the answer to doesn’t require a lot of effort on your part, and other people in the discussion will appreciate your help, expertise and interest in their problem.

For example, say you have a website that sells Blackberry phones, well then you could join sites like the Cranberry forum.  On this forum you could offer suggestions and answer people’s questions on various Blackberry topics. After a series of brilliant (and totally non-self-promo) posts, you will be looked at as authority figure and will probably have hordes of grateful people start linking to your site. Aha!  There’s that Organic Linking thing we love so much!

By participating in online communities, you have a good way to get more traffic, build more respect and authority, and perhaps increase your sales in the process.

3. Be Original: Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thang, Baybay

Let’s face it…people are always looking for original ideas and thoughts.  They don’t want to read information that has already been covered and re-covered.  Kinda like current pop singers attempting to remake classic songs (personally I’ve never heard a cover of a Led Zeppelin song that did any justice to the original, but that’s just me.)  It makes me cringe, and I loose all respect for the musicians attempting to re-make a classic that should have been left alone!  Zeppelin, the Stones, Marley, Sinatra – they were the originals, which is why people still listen to them and not the mod reboots by performers that are here today and gone tomorrow.

Be the Jimmy Plant or Robert Page of the Internet.  Do a little bit of digging, i.e. research, into your topic, and be original in your posts.  Matt says that you can use already available data and make comparisons, get statistics and come out with a whole new angle to it. Find a unique perspective – your perspective – and tell the world about it.

Giving people something new is über important to encouraging incoming links.  Again – this is totally organic.  Mr. Cutts makes an great example of where Danny Sullivan compared how well different web mail services were able to de-spam his inbox.

Yes, spam mail is an old topic, but what Mr. Sullivan did was compare how much spam he got and how many mails were mistakenly sent to spam in the different mail services. He gleaned a lot of interesting data which he blogged about and as a result, many people linked to him.

Find what people are talking about, what they are interested in on the forums and other social media sites, and give them something interesting to read, discuss and think about.  New information will stick out in their mind, and they will thank you in many valuable ways for it.

4.  Make a List: And Check it Twice

Mr. Cutts doesn’t particularly like this method, but it has helped a plethora of people generate more traffic and gain more links.  The idea is to make a list instead of just an article.

Lists like ‘5 Compelling Reasons To Make Your Site Mobile Friendly’ gets more attention, traffic, and it will add valuable content to your site.

The reason these lists work is because the visitors know what your content will consist of.  They know that it won’t take long to view (since most people are skimmers when it comes to content).  Time is money, and both are precious, so if readers know that this is going to be short, sweet and to the point, they will stop, read, and probably comment, and then link back to your goodness.

The only drawback to this is that there are a LOT of these around.  However it is worth the effort if you want to compete and gain more traffic. The key is to make it interesting – worth their while to take a moment out of their busy day to hear what you have to say.

What would get you to stop and read it?

5.  Blog It, Baby! Your Blog or Mine?

Matt explains that a blog is your online business card – your profile or identity to millions who haven’t met you yet. He goes on to say that  he believes there’s no excuse for your business to NOT maintain a blog. (Easy for him to say, right?)

If you go this route, it will be a bit more time-consuming because you’ll need to post relevant content often.  You don’t need to update it daily, though – once a week should be fine.  A company blog is a huge bonus, as you can add additional information in the blog posts that you can’t really place on your main website.  This additional information will encourage more people to read your posts and may compel them to comment and even link to you.

6. Lead The Way: Intriguing How-To’s, How-Not’s & Freebie Tutorials

Matt points out that people are always looking up information on how to do things. Be a teacher of sorts.  Include tutorials on your site by giving step-by-step instructions for basic activities in your everyday life.  For example, like fixing a tap – cause we are not all born handy.  Some of us, like me, need all the help we can find!

Matt mentions that your post needn’t even be related to the topic your site deals with, because it’s not just about links, but providing resources that nobody else has.   One example of this is if you run a dance studio, you could offer a funny tutorial on how to do the infamous ‘Moonwalk’.  This could get you many links.

Make videos in which you are an expert on the subject.  After a while, people will see you as an authority figure on that topic.  Mat says that even if you don’t build a lot of links in this way, the long tail keyword will help people find you and even gain two or three links, which are good enough for that kind of content.

7.  Party Favors: Offer Something They Can’t Refuse

I remember back to when I was a little girl and every week it seemed I was invited to another one of those silly themed birthday parties only an elementary school kid could dream up. The main reason I went? Party favors. Those goody bags packed full of happiness that every parent uses to bribe their kid’s friends into showing up bearing gifts. Man I miss those days…

I mean, who doesn’t like to get something for free, even if it isn’t something tangible that they can hold in their hands???  We just love free stuff, because we pay enough for things in this life, so when you can get something for nothing – it’s such a great deal!  Makes one feel all warm and tingly all over!

Matt says it works best when you offer useful related services or even release a free product. People look for services like free advertising for their homes, as well as products like WordPress Plug-ins, nifty and useful widgets or an extension for Chrome or Firefox, because they make their lives a little easier. When people feel they get something of value for free from you, often they’ll link to you and recommend it to their friends and colleagues. The more, the merrier.

8. Videos: Give Them a Lasting Visual

Making a video can be fun. It can really get those creative juices flowing, and you can pretend to be Spielberg for like, five whole minutes!  The great thing about videos is that your viewers will enjoy watching it as much as you enjoyed making it, that is…if they’re cool.  Cool videos spread like wildfire on the Internet,  especially if you are making a comical video related to your website.

Say your site is about cooking…you could include funny videos of cooking mishaps in the kitchen (Google “Never Fry Gnocchi” for a good laugh), or give advice on how to make different types of dishes. Making dough for homemade cinnamon rolls is one I know would help a friend or two, as yeast seems to be their arch enemy from hell!

Matt explains that by making videos, you connect personally with viewers. Also, you only have to do this once, and you continue to gain result for years after, because we all know what happens online, stays online (and never ever goes away).

That Said….

Gaining inbound links is not an easy task, but I hope Matt’s video (and my recap of it) has helped you…maybe pointed you in the direction you need to be headed.

All these things are über beneficial, and most won’t cost you a dime!  It’s ingenious.

See, Link-Building isn’t as scary as you thought it was, right?  Yeah, it takes a little time and effort on your part, but anything worth having in this life usually does.

Got Milk?

Not the creamy white elixir we get from Elsie the Cow…I mean e-milk…tips or suggestions that will help us build stronger, healthier organic links!  If you do, please feel free to share them with the rest of us in the comment section.  We’d LOVE to hear from you!

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