This blog post is based on a presentation given at last week’s BrightonSEO 2014 entitled ‘The habits that land you links’.
Stacey Cavanagh is the head of search at Tecmark and she talked extensively on how to organically achieve links by creating awesome content that people want to share without cheating or playing the system, optimising attribution and improving outreach.
We still need links for SEO. Links are integral in returning the best, most relevant and topical search results.
Matt Cutts has stated that Google has experimented internally with an algorithm that ignores backlinks and the results are a mess. “It turns out that backlinks, even though there’s some noise and certainly a lot of spam, for the most part are still a really, really big win in terms of quality of search results”.
To many this news comes as reassuring, to others who don’t have a strong content marketing strategy and the fact that link building is increasingly being seen by Google as a signal of black hat practice, this is a wake-up call and that creating useful, entertaining, engaging and therefore shareable content is the way forward.
So how do you build links through content creation? Stacey Cavanagh laid out three key areas that can help you start building some good habits.
If you want to come up with a seemingly endless supply of brilliant ideas you need an efficient strategy. You’re not going to get terribly far tapping the end of your pencil on an empty notepad while sat on your own in Starbucks.
Stacey recommends Bernd Rohrbach ‘6-3-5 method of brainwriting’ which should generate 108 ideas in 30 minutes. All you need is six people (they don’t have to be in your team, or even people you work with), a simple worksheet for each person and 30 minutes.
Start with a problem statement (I’ll be using “how to get people to eat more chips?”), then each person has five minutes to generate three ideas each based around that statement. After the five minutes are up, pass the worksheet to the person on your left and they have another five minutes to write three ideas inspired by the ones written on the sheet.
After only 30 minutes of focused brainwriting you’ll have 108 ideas. It’s not too long a time for six people to take out of the day and to concentrate in, also the domino effect of ideas spinning off from other ideas should make things easier.
Not all of it is going to be golden, in fact you may only have one or two that are worth taking into further planning, but that’s one or two more than you had half-an-hour ago.
Get into the habit of proper and thorough image attribution. It’s highly effective and the images don’t have to be incredible works of art or replete with effects and processes. Just strong clear images that are framed well and labelled accurately with the correct description.
Share all of your images on Flickr under Creative Commons and tell people how to attribute the image to you. For example: ‘if you use the below image I would be grateful if you could credit econsultancy.com’.
It’s vital for SEO to optimise all of your images on Flickr with a clear and accurate title and an equally descriptive yet concise meta description.
It’s also wise to have regular reclamation sessions. Find out who might be using your images with Image Raider, the automated reverse image search tool. Just spend some time adding your images to its catalogue, then it will alert you whenever somebody else uses your image. You can contact that site if they haven’t credited you properly and give them a little polite nudge to do so.
Build your little black book of contacts and audit regularly. You need an ever evolving list of journalists, bloggers and other contacts who are relevant to your industry and remain so.
There are various monitoring tools that can help you find the right contacts. Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer for researching and analyzing any mentions of yourself, your brand or your competitors. Google Alerts is by no means perfect but it’s free. Pickanews is the one that Stacey recommends as it searches all multimedia sources offline as well as online, and hen uses Buzzstream to manage the list.
These are just a few of the tips recommended during the course of the presentation, for many more check out Stacey Cavanagh’s slideshare.