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Link Building via Curation

bencken-jeremy
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One of the first challenges link builders discover starting in a new industry is that building relationships takes time. Promoting infographics, guest posts, and other linkable assets with cold contacts can be difficult.

So a major focus in link building is relationship building. A few methods we've covered in the past include networking, e-mailing friendly commentary, blog commenting, blogging, using trackbacks, and connecting via Twitter and Linkedin.

In all these cases, the basic strategy is the same: contribute to the conversation in your industry, build relationships with influencers, and hope that those relationships lead to links.

There's another effective opportunity for link builders: curation. Here's how it works:

  • Establish a regular blog post that features a "best of" roundup of content for your industry.

  • Publish the news, blog posts, and tweets that are of most value to your industry, and organize them into a digest with light commentary.

  • When you include an influencer in your roundup, send them a brief note via e-mail or Twitter to let them know.

  • When you tweet about your post, be sure to mention the Twitter handles of the bloggers included in the roundup.

  • Find other sites in your industry that link to roundup stories and tell them about your regular feature. The best way to do this is find other roundup articles and investigate their backlinks using any of the big three tools -- Yahoo, OSE, or Majestic -- or get creative with Google's advanced query operators.

At its core, curating content is about saving readers time by helping them find not only the most important content, but also the obscure diamonds in the rough, and delivering it in a time-saving format. Check out some of the best mainstream media curators such as The Drudge Report and The Daily Beast or SEO curators such as Kristi Hines' Fetching Friday, Wiep Knol's Link Building this Month, and Tamar Weinberg's annual Best Internet Marketing Posts of the year.

New Tools Ease Curation

For link builders, curating content accomplishes many goals at once, yet has recently become much easier and scalable thanks to new technologies.

Keepstream (Disclaimer: I'm an investor in a fund which owns a minority stake in Keepstream) and Curated.by, which both launched in the past six months, enable you to bookmark blog posts and tweets as you find them via bookmarklets and browser extensions. You organize your content into collections, add commentary, and publish them to your blog with a few clicks.

Most of the services generate a JavaScript widget you can paste into your blog post. While this isn't ideal for generating trackbacks, your blog should still appear in your influencers' analytics reports, and Keepstream plans to release a native HTML output for bundles in the near future.

Paper.li is another tool that should be in the curator's toolbox. It enables you to automatically generate a list of the most popular links shared from one of your Twitter lists.

Because Twitter users often promote important blog posts, this is an excellent way to find relevant news. However, if you need your paper.li news digest in an RSS feed, you'll have to use a service like Dapper.net to convert it as paper.li does not currently support RSS.

Another way to find the top news is to subscribe to feeds from all relevant industry blogs via Google Reader and browse your feeds with PostRank's browser extension installed, which highlights which post are more influential.

Why Curation is Effective Link Building

  • Valuable content. Curated posts are useful for readers and are link-worthy themselves and will attract subscribers to your blog. As the volume of daily Twitter increases, there is an increasing need for curators who can find and promote the hidden gems that would otherwise disappear into the "tw-ether."

  • Ease of creation. Curated posts are frankly easier to create than original posts. If you take advantage of tools like Keepstream, Curated.by, paper.li, PostRank, and Dapper, you can easily automate many of the laborious steps and focus on finding and sharing content.

  • Relationships. Curated posts, when done right, are unselfish -- the entire purpose of the building a roundup of industry news is to provide the best content to your readers and promote others work. This leads naturally to a relationship with authors. Imagine how much more effective it will be to open a pitch e-mail with, "Hi, I run the weekly XYZ industry roundup that featured your post last month..."

Curation has all of the best traits of effective link building: it creates content that's valuable to users, it helps build relationships with influencers in your industry, and thanks to new tools, now it's easy and scalable as a content and relationship-building tool.


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