What are two of the biggest obstacles companies face in link marketing? Developing linkable content and making people aware of it. Here are some insights from my experience that will make it easier to overcome those obstacles.
First let's look at linkable content. Content could be anything from an interactive tool, to videos, to user-generated content. Don't limit yourself to thinking content is just written words by a writer.
Study Related Industries
There's no need to reinvent the wheel. Study what other related industries are doing to attract links. This will give you an edge on your competition. While they're busy investigating each other, study what other competitive industries are doing.
Better yet, investigate highly competitive fields. They tend to be more creative and aggressive.
If, for example, you're in the vitamins business, then study the plastic surgery and health insurance industry. The key is to widen the scope of places where you get ideas. That will give your company an edge over the competition.
Questions & Answers
The easiest way to find content ideas that are highly linkable is to study questions people frequently ask on forums, question sites such as Yahoo Answers, and social media. When questions continue to come up, it indicates a certain level of demand, that the answers to these questions might not be easily answered with a simple search, or that the top-ranking information is outdated.
That opens up an opportunity to create content focused on the answers to those questions. The solution could be a simple Q&A page, interactive tool, or instruction video.
Of course, you're going to have to promote that content to get it noticed, unless your site is already ranking well and is trusted by search engines. Even then, it probably still won't rank in the top 10, because you're likely to be competing against sites that have more authority than yours. It's essential to make others aware of your content.
The marketing of the content is time-consuming and tedious work. That's one reason seasoned link marketers are always booked.
One solution: hire part-time people or interns to help with the promotions. These could be eager college students looking to get their foot in the door, or highly experienced laid-off professionals.
Utilize their enthusiasm and knowledge to promote your content in forums, Q&A sites, blogs, and social media. The more people who are aware of your content, the more links it will obtain.
It's similar to a brick-and-mortar business. You either need a great location with high visibility/traffic, or you must promote it heavily.
Take the example of an online apparel retailer. They can hire a part-time person (in-house or telecommute) that is highly knowledgeable about the industry. Their job is to find and become involved with sites where people ask a lot of questions about clothing.
The person spends one to two hours per day answering questions and pointing people in the right direction. They will also be making people aware of the retailer's helpful content while following the site's rules.
Let me be clear: this doesn't mean spamming these sites. It means making meaningful contributions and following that site's rules. It's all about building a reputation.
As a solid reputation and awareness are built, others will also start to point people to your content. That will lead to links.
Remember, many people in forums also have blogs or Web sites. The goal is to get people to link to your content from the content of their site. Links from forums don't count for that much. Forums are just a delivery method to build awareness and reputation.
As your content gets more links, it will start to rank higher. Then once it gets top rankings, the links will grow even quicker. People tend to link more to sites that rank in the top 10. After all, Google is vouching for them.
These are just a couple solutions to your link building challenges. Remember, good link building is just good marketing.
Justilien Gaspard is off this week. This column was originally published on June 25, 2009.