Online marketing pros are always talking about of “hacks” — smart, effective, and easy ways of achieving goals.
I love hacks. I write about hacks. I think “hack” is a cool word.
But don’t get the wrong idea when I write about “hacks.” Hacks aren’t always easy. They aren’t always quick. They aren’t always effective, either!
Nowhere is this truer than in the world of linkbuilding. Building an authoritative backlink profile takes a lot of quality content, more time than you think, and plenty of patience.
At the same time, it’s incredibly important. Building strong and authoritative backlinks is still the primary method of gaining higher search engine rankings.
So, are there any “hacks” that will allow you to achieve this goal?
Thankfully, the answer is yes. Here are five of the best methods that I’m using to gain powerful backlinks.
1. Research, and then improve on highly shared content.
Start by researching your competitor’s content that’s being shared all over social networks.
First, pick a content researching tool.
I normally use BuzzSumo.
You can try EpicBeat. The basic version is free, and it will work fine.
Ahrefs has a great content discovery tool that provides similar information.
Now, you’re going to use your selected tool to research your niche or topic for the highest-shared article.
Let’s take an example. I searched ”content marketing,” and chose one post that did well over the past 30 days: 7 Secrets To Using Content Marketing For Your Business.
There are two primary keywords in this title: “content marketing” and “secrets.”
I then fired up Google.com and searched for “content marketing” + “secrets” (without the quotes).
Look what I got — more top posts from authoritative sites. Lots of inspiration, lots of research material, and lots of ideas to create better content that will get heavily shared.
The next thing to do is write a compelling article that follows the theme, subject matter, or pattern of the highly-shared articles you discovered.
For example, I might write an article with this title: “REVEALED: 17 Content Marketing Secrets of Industry Experts.”
Write it, proof it, make sure it is actionable, then share it all over the place.
This model of content creation will bring the quality links in.
2. Gatecrash authoritative blogs.
Before you try out this tactic, you must have at least 2-3 helpful and actionable articles in your niche ready to be published.
So let’s say your niche is content marketing.
Assuming you have a few blogs ready to roll, here’s what you should do:
(i) Search allintitle: “your keywords” (without quotes). The search will return pages that contain your keywords in the page title. Alternatively, you can search for “keywords” submit a guest blog (without quotes).
In our example, you’d probably search for allintitle: content marketing. That’s what I did. Here are some of the first page results:
Now, make a list of all the results in the first three pages. You can leave off obvious stuff like Wikipedia, if that’s in your SERPs.
Write each webmaster a letter that says you are a fan of their blog and would love to contribute. Suggest a couple of titles (the ones that you already have written).
If you send out thirty letters, you’ll definitely get some responses. Your articles are ready to go, so you pitch them, and send them. Be sure to include a relevant, appropriate, and contextual link to your website within the article.
If the webmaster approves your titles and invites you to guest post, you may have to first tweak your content to meet that blog’s guidelines. If your article gets accepted, you will earn a high-quality backlink from an authoritative website.
This is called guest posting. It’s one of the most effective ways of authoritative linkbuilding that I’m aware of.
3. Generate authoritative links, and become an expert.
Can you generate awesome links and be viewed as an expert at the same time?
Plus, you’ll gain some serious SEO mojo in the process.
Here’s how you do it.
- Register at Quora, Yahoo Answers and WikiHow, and join LinkedIn groups in your niche.
- Start answering questions. Be very helpful. In the first 15-20 days, do not link back to your website. Just keep helping people in this initial burst.
- If your answers help users, they will sit up and take notice. Many will consider you an expert. Some will upvote your answers and some may start asking your advice.
- When this happens, start building links by backlinking your home or blog page to any answer you write. Do this cautiously, and only when relevant.
- Research all the questions (on Quora, Yahoo, LinkedIn Groups and WikiHow) in your niche, and create a giant, industry-wide FAQ page on your website.
- Next, Google the phrases in your niche that start with a question word (what, when, which, how, where, does it, why, etc.). Here’s an example:
Make a list of all the keyphrases suggested by Google and write them in your list of questions.
Answer each question in depth and post all Qs and As on your FAQ page. Create categories for categories if required.
This giant FAQ page will help your website rank high for voice search, because most voice searches start with a question word.
See the power in this technique? You build authoritative links from Q and A sites, become an expert in your niche, and get your site ready for voice search, all with one simple tactic!
4. Do local SEO.
Local optimization is perhaps the fastest hack out there that gets you immediate quality backlinks and business exposure. Follow this checklist while performing it.
First, make a list of relevant and quality local directories, search engines (Google and Bing) and social media/review sites (Yelp, G+, Facebook, FourSquare, etc.) you want to post your NAP — name, address, and phone.
Remember, this information must be consistent across all directories. Do not forget to claim your pages after registering.
Keep in mind to fill out your profiles on Google Places and Google+ as thoroughly as possible.
Second, deploy rich snippets on your Contact Us page (for the local address).
Do you offer exclusive or special services for some cities? If so, create pages and spread that URL on city-specific directories.
Write relevant region- or city-specific posts in your blog.
Some users leave negative feedback on local directories and review sites. To enhance brand value, you must respond to all feedback, especially negative feedback in a positive way.
5. Create a soft controversy.
Before I explain this point, let me make a quick clarification. Controversies can be hard or soft.
What makes for a hard controversy?
War, politics, religion, tragedy, ethnic issues, and generally any stuff that has the power to alienate masses.
These topics are a big no-no. Unless that’s absolutely your niche, I recommend you stay away from those topics.
I’m in digital marketing, so I have no interest sounding off on matters of race, religion, or politics.
What exactly is a soft controversy?
It’s a discussion topic that has these characteristics:
- It doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, but…
- It makes people want to debate or share their opinion.
If you’re creative, you can come up with a few of these topics within your niche.
Here’s an example: Let’s assume you are in the fashion niche. Here’s how I went about creating a topic:
- I Googled “top fashion designers”, and selected Rihanna.
- Next, I Googled Rihanna in their News section and found she’d recently been stomping around the UK in waist-high boots. Yes, you read that right. I also noticed that she was wearing a mini apron around her hips. Why she wore that was not explained in the report.
- Putting my creative juices to work, I conjured this topic: Has Rihanna Lost Her Soul Wearing Waist-High Boots?
I could then write an opinion piece, criticizing the need to sport the totally unnecessary (IMO) waist-high boots and strut about in them.
I also would interview a few radical designers who prefer a classic look and obtain some caustic comments from them, which of course I’d use in my piece.
I would then spread this piece on all fashion groups/hashtags on Facebook, G+, LinkedIn and Twitter, and also post it on the pages of all the fashion designers I follow.
Then I would sit back and watch the links and traffic flow in as I keep responding to comments, good or bad. A flame war might erupt. NBD. Roll with it.
Though it is fairly easy to raise a “soft” stink around celebrities, creating a controversy in other niches could prove to be a tough ask.
But it’s possible. Believe me. I’ve done it.
Just refer to complaints on business listing sites, Rip Off Report, blog and forum comments, and Google (where you can search for your target person or industry + scams or secrets, etc. You’ll sure find some dirt around.
So, go ahead and put my SEO hacks to good use, but always take a 360-degree view of SEO — one that includes technical, content (video, text, audio), coding best practices, responsiveness, on-page SEO, link building, UI and UX.
What are some of your favorite go-to hacks for generating high-quality links?