Russian roulette has nothing on link building.
Changes in the Google algorithm and wild proclamations by Matt Cutts have turned this staple of search-engine optimization into a risky game. With Google making a concerted effort to snuff out the common SEO tactic, what kinds of content will continue to serve as successful link bait?
Glad you asked. While link building is harder than before, it’s not impossible. This guide will highlight five future-friendly techniques unlikely to be devalued or called into question by Google:
- Using high-quality infographics
- Writing definitive guides
- Employing motion graphics
- Researching complete resource lists
- Incorporating interactive content
When you rely on these types of posts in your link-building strategy, you won’t have to fret over future Google algorithm changes. Emphasizing high-quality, evergreen content will get and keep your posts at the top of the search-results list.
What is Link Bait?
Before getting into the “how-to,” let’s go over a little background on link bait.
Link baiting is essentially going on a virtual fishing trip. Just as you bait a hook with a tasty worm to entice a fish, you also bait your site with content that people are likely to find engaging and interesting. Your aim is to provide something so compelling that they link to it on their site or pass it along on social-media sites.
By doing this, you increase your site’s search ranking. Google likes it when other sites link to your content.
However, Google does not like it when people try to game the system, hence the changes to the algorithm. The search engine will punish sites for blatant link baiting, but in most of those black-hat instances, the content being used as link bait is not high quality. It’s in the form of widgets and templates with links thrown in. Basically, it’s pure junk.
That’s the key to future link building. Google has no objections to good content, only bad stuff slapped up with little effort or imagination that’s just designed to push traffic. High-quality link bait is another matter.
How to Get Started
The five essential elements of a future-friendly post:
- Research behind it: You have to know what you’re talking about to get any traction.
- An evergreen quality: Your content must be timeless. Dated posts won’t hold up well in the long haul.
- High-quality link hosts: You want the linkbacks to your content coming from sites with equally high content and nothing spammy.
- Varying anchor text: Highly similar anchor text signals that the links are anything but natural. Don’t tick off Google in this way.
- Great content: How many times can this point be repeated? Good content will never go out of style.
Five Future-Friendly Approaches to Link Building
What: Infographics are visual representations of sometimes complex, sometimes fun information. They use graphics to illustrate the point being made. They’re popular because they’re easy to read, fast to digest and fun to share, which also makes them perfect material for link building.
Example: There are infographics on practically anything you can think of on the Web, but the best ones offer a unique and comprehensive overview of a particular subject. For instance, this infographic from a seller of mosquito traps went viral online, getting shares on many sites including Buzzfeed. It breaks down fact and fiction about mosquito repellents and explains why you might be attracting more than your fair share of bugs. By playing to camping and outdoorsy crowds, it reached a broad range of people. A fun layout didn’t hurt, either.
2. Definitive Guides
What: You’ve undoubtedly seen lots of stories online that claim to be “the definitive guide to” (insert obscure subject here). Of course, no one has actually certified that this is true, but the promise of that name is enough to draw lots of people into clicking on your post. By promising something comprehensive and informative, you’re branding yourself an expert and courting page views at the same time.
Example: Yoast is one of the best-known resources on the Web, and the site delivers with its definitive guide to higher rankings for WordPress sites. It is a detailed, well-structured and thoroughly researched post that probably will answer any question you could possibly come up with on this topic. Every definitive guide should aim to be just as thorough.
3. Motion Graphics
What: Think of motion graphics as the animated version of infographics. Instead of using a static image to tell a story, motion graphics incorporate video and animation to illustrate a point. Like infographics, they are highly shareable and often get passed around social media. They make good fodder for future-friendly link building because of their longevity and potential to go viral.
Example: CJ Pony Parts, a company that sells Mustang parts to Mustang enthusiasts, put a motion graphic on its blog detailing “Movies that Made Vehicular Legends.” It’s a fun and interesting watch geared (if you’ll excuse the pun) at car enthusiasts. It has engaging visuals, making the sentences pop up on screen as though someone’s using a spray gun to shoot them on. And the content is something you won’t find elsewhere, with details about how the cars in question were customized for their movies.
4. Resource Lists
What: How much time do we waste every day searching the Internet for information on a broad category that should be available right at our fingertips? That’s the idea behind resource lists. They offer comprehensive breakdowns of where to find information about a certain topic or issue. You do the dirty work of tracking down all this info so the reader doesn’t have to. These are ideal link-building posts because they stand the test of time and are something people will need to reference over and over.
Example: 12 Keys Rehab, a facility that deals with the mental and physical aspects of addiction, has posted a comprehensive guide to alternative medicine resources on its site. The list is helpful not just to those who have addiction issues or those in their family, but also to others who suffer from disease or are looking for help for a sick family member. Remember, link building is dependent on writing posts that will be shared across a wide swath of people, so the more you can target with one post, the better.
5. Interactive Content
What: The final example of smart future-friendly link-building ideas is interactive content. This has become increasingly important in an age where telephones talk back (hi, Siri) and billboards respond to hand motions. Whenever you can make a post interactive, letting the user control some aspect of their experience, you’re bound to have higher engagement, which Google will look upon favorably.
Example: Searchable maps are a great component to add to a post, as seen in “The United States of Search Data,” a post detailing state-by-state search data. They allow readers to set the parameters of their own searches and seek out the information they’re most interested in, rather than having it force-fed to them. This type of customizable data will remain relevant and sought-after for some time, giving the post longevity and future-proofing it against any further Google algorithm changes.
From infographics to resource lists to interactive content, there are lots of ways to make sure your content stands up to whatever Google thinks of next. Now that you know the best tactics for future-friendly link building, it’s time to put them into practice and send your post soaring to the top of the search-engine results page.