There was no shortage of style and substance at the final LinkLove conference delivered by Distilled and a very classy event it was too.
This is a roundup of all the actionable tips you need from LinkLove 2013. The takeaways from conferences are the most valuable bits, whether it’s new learning or relationships, or even just the reassurance that you are doing the right things, the real ROI comes from what action you take. Distilled’s conferences are packed with actionable tips so here is what you need to know from 2013. Basically #RCS works, just do it!
Head Smackingly Simple: Post Conversion Link Building Tips
1) Read this book: Nudge by Richard Thaler.
2) Content marketing is the big buzzword in SEO at the moment. Between 2005-2008 there were 843 results in Google and now there are 8,090 in just a month! Real companies have been doing content marketing for a long time before the phrase was coined. But think of building content as being synonymous with getting married… you have to commit to it, you can’t just do it and forget about it.
3) It’s all about the ‘nudge’. When someone follows you on Twitter, that’s a nudge. It’s a good first step towards building a relationship, so pay attention and respond.
4) When visitors complete a form on your site (newsletter, lead form etc.), that is a nudge for your site, so follow up with a thank you nudge back. E.g. let them know how much you are looking forward to working with them or sending them great news tips etc.
5) Nudge them to follow you on Twitter.
6) Even better, have a testimonial from a client saying how pleased they are that they did the same thing as the visitor has just done. Seer are working on a video now so watch out for that.
7) When someone sends you a resume/CV that is a trust signal, nudge them back with a video that gets them excited to work there.
8) Find the nudges you are receiving into your website and see how you can get more relationship/links/clients by nudging back.
9) Blog about your vendors new features and how great they are (if you believe that). Offer them a testimonial and you become an advocate for them and could get a link back. Seer got a link from the Adwords blog after writing a great post about using their new feature.
10) The more people you help, the more people will help you – good karma come back atcha. Build trust by giving away tips and strategies.
11) Use Full Contact’s API to find the social information of your newsletter subscribers then segment your list to find new link opportunities.
12) Work out who your link targets link to. Run linkfromdomain:domain.com in Bing, run the results through SEOQuake and then Screaming Frog to find the sites that get the high quality links and then get links from them. They are doing #RCS.
13) Use regex in followerwonk to get really specific e.g. put in location and topic to see who is a hot target.
14) Corporations have people working in them, find the ones you want to target and drop them in Gplusdata to see who follows them.
15) Use Circle Count to search by employer URL and then get people in your own company to promote and share content.
16) Drop your URL into Google+ ripples so you can see who are the influencers who are likely to push your content.
17) Who are the people your link targets reply to? Use Twtrland to find them and see who replies, stalk who your target responds to and maybe that is a route to that target if you can’t go direct. You can at least get a better handle on the things s/he responds to.
18) You can use scraper for Chrome to extract the Twitter handles so the stalking can commence.
19) Use Get Little Bird to find the people your influencers are following as these are likely to be the influencers of the future – get in early!
20) Don’t underestimate the influence that listeners have, they are reporters even though they may not contribute that much to the current conversation – get them too.
How do i Get Them to Link?
21) Lyndon introduced himself as a link baiter but you don’t need to be a link baiter to link bait, you just need disciplined practice. Link baiting = content marketing for the suits. It’s the same thing!
22) Link bait is about the human mind, we create content for people, not for machines. It’s publishing, not content farming. Think about publishing as being the same as marketing, its about transferring our thoughts to the minds of other people to excite them. When people are excited and like what they see they are more likely to link to it. It’s people who link, not websites.
23) Think about psychographics. This involves looking at how the viewer emotionally engages with the content. It’s the reaction that’s important as this is what triggers people to link naturally. To better understand our target and achieve our end goal of getting them to link to us, Lyndon suggested that we build a psychographic profile of the linker we want to target. Think about what content is going to attract and engage our target.
24) Focus on the mental triggers that cause a positive reaction and think about that in terms of one specific person, it’s easier than thinking in terms of groups of people. Be objective in your thoughts – you are a dealer not a user, you are pushing it.
25) Mass Publishing – this is about having a tabloid mindset when you are creating the content. It’s hard to get links so appeal to as many people as possible so you can grab as much attention as possible.
26) Appreciate that there is a war on for people’s attention. It doesn’t matter how good your content is if no one is aware of it so getting it attention is a key factor in making it successful and getting links. The more people who see your content, the more will share and the more links you will get.
27) Be aware of how different areas of your brain reacts to your content on initial impact. There are 3 main areas of your brain: primal brain, midlevel brain and high brain.
28) Primal brain is your first target: it is intrigued by sensational headlines, it responds to fear, sex and death etc., Your content should call out to the primal brain to make it excited or scared.
29) The subconscious does the deeper processing, it responds to outside stimuli and is emotional and irrational. This area of the brain can perform millions of processes at once. It’s where you get impulse buys and also links!
30) Aim your headline at the primal brain and your content at the subconscious brain. Litter the body of your content to the impulsive and emotional brain or it will wander off as it gets bored. Basically “think like The Economist and write like The Sun”. For example, here is a headline for a site selling home security “How to stop serial murderers from breaking in and eating you” It’s a must read!
31) Do this: brainstorm as many headline and content ideas as possible over a few days, get a big list.
32) Do this: cut the list down to eliminate the rubbish.
33) Do this: make headlines as simple and terse as possible. Read poetry to train your mind to think in this way! Top headline example: “Boy Eats Own Head” by the National Enquirer. Your primal brain has to read it (toddles off to look it up it’s so intriguing…. urgh far too many sensational headlines, will need more time!) Remember the areas of the brain you are appealing to as it’s really hard to ignore great headlines.
34) Read Alan Carr’s book on comedy for inspirational ideas about link bait.
35) Research what people are talking about in your vertical and also what general topics of interest there are such as Olympics last year, end of the world and zombie apocalypse or the Mars landing and then mash these popular topics together with your vertical topic. Scale this by having the best content and the best promotion.
36) Lyndon say that it’s not hard to get links to any sector – you are just not thinking hard enough!
37) It takes time, money and risk to get the best links but this gives the highest ROI so it’s worth it.
38) Book recommendation from Lyndon is Robert Cialdini’s Influence: Psychology of Persuasion.
23,787 Ways to Build Links in 30 Minutes
39) Don’t use Fiverr for link building.
40) Basically the message is that nothing has changed, bad links are still bad it’s just that now you can no longer get away with it so don’t try!
41) If you have a good blog with great content then you can sign up to Zemanta to get your content promoted to bloggers who are looking for references to what you do. It saves them searching for appropriate content so it matchmakes content generators with bloggers. It works well too.
42) Photos – make them embeddable (use Paddy Moogan’s image link embed tool). Upload your photos to Flickr under the Creative Commons license so you ask for an attribution link when anyone uses them.
43) Image raider from @kiwialec finds who has embedded your image but hasn’t given you an attribution link so its super easy to go find them. You can then go ask for an image credit (attribution link is jargon, don’t use jargon)
44) Video – make them embeddable too. Use this tool by Phil Nottingham
45) If you are doing PR it can be tough to get a commercial link so get quotes from the client and then link them back to a profile page which has no commercial intent.
46) Use Rapportive for finding emails in Gmail.
47) Use Boomerang for scheduling email reminders in Gmail.
48) Identify your target audience and think of what content needs they have at different stages of the buying process and create content that serves those needs.
49) Make the content you create better than anything that has already been done. Make it look sexier, make it more comprehensive, update it etc.
50) Tell the top sites on that topic about your content e.g. if you write a great post on Google Analytics then tell the GA blog; write a great post on WordPress and tell WordPress about it. If it’s awesome then the chances are they will mention your content and you’ll get a link.
51) If you build cool stuff using people’s tools then tell them what you did using their tools (write a case study) and they will most likely promote the fact to their audience.
52) For awesome data go to the Guardian data blog and see the little blue link <get the data> use this to find data on your sector. They have awesome datasets that you can use for all sorts of infographics, just rock up with your imagination and dive in.
53) Doing #RCS (real company stuff) gets links – innocent smoothies got their customers to knit hats for their bottles and submit them to innocent who then donated 25p for each hatted bottle that was sold in supermarkets. The product flew off the shelves and they also got links even though this wasn’t a link building campaign.
54) Create content that is likely to naturally get links rather than creating content specifically to build links. There is a difference: one has long term value and the other doesn’t. For example: a site Reevo created gives customers the answers they want without making them trawl through reviews which they know they already trust.
55) Stop behaving like an SEO. Don’t just contribute once and walk away. Become a regular contributor.
56) Remember to fully leverage existing assets and create new ones.
57) If you want great links to a commercial page add a useful resource to that page.
58) Get experience in traditional marketing processes and practices as having this experience is incredibly useful to an online marketing career.
Enterprise Link Spam Analysis
59) Machine learning is very real and is improving all the time plus it’s becoming more prevalent in marketing. We should not ignore this, we should clean up our back link profiles because Google are coming to get you!
60) Google’s updates are currently all about spam and they are creeping and increasing their reach. What is tolerated in 2013 may not be tolerated in 2014 so keep it clean and keep removing the dross!
61) The context of your links is important and Google is very sensitive to context so consider this when cleaning up your link profile. Don’t just delete the link if the page looks spammy but the context is very relevant.
62) Generally links on pages with lots of links on them would be likely to be considered spammy so if context is not there then delete!
63) Ian introduced http://isitspam.portent.com/ as a tool that can be used to see if a link is spammy or not (at the time of writing this Ian has taken the tool down as it’s a tool that is still learning and results are not reliable enough, but he is still working on it and will bring it back soon).
64) Check out Google’s Prediction API if you are interested in knowing more about machine learning.
65) Keep an eye on Ian’s blog where he promises a long blog post to follow up his presentation. Actionable tip is to go read that when it appears here.
How to Build Agile and Actionable Link Data Reports With APIs
Richard did a live demonstration so there is no slide share but here are links to tools he recommended during his presentation on how to break down components used every day and rearrange them to find incredibly useful insight using APIs and Excel. A very technical and fascinating presentation.
66) When you are doing link spam analysis reverse sort your list and start from the worst and work upwards.
67) SEO Tools for Excel to super charge your SEO analytics skills.
68) Find anything about APIs at Programmable Web.
69) Sharedcount.com have an API that gives you the number of social shares for a URL.
70) Wipmania is a good place to start if you are interested in APIs and want to start with something simple.
How to Transform Your CEO into a Link Building, Social Sharing Machine
71) The CEO has the ability to massively move the needle when it comes to marketing your business successfully. Is this happening in your company?
72) CEOs should be the leader, the evangelist, they set the tone, the core values and choose the right people. No one else has the power and influence that they have. They set the mission, the vision and although lots of others contribute no one else has the final say. Think how this can be leveraged.
73) They are in a unique position and so have an opportunity to leverage that for the good of the business. As SEOs we can encourage our client’s CEOs to use this influence and benefit the outcome we are trying to achieve.
74) The CEO is responsible for ensuring the company is properly capitalised and that resource allocation supports core values. SEOmoz spend $700 per month on cupcakes and $700,000 on Amazon Servers! Both are considered essential to the success of the business.
75) There are different styles of CEO marketers, recognise yours. For example: leveraging celebrity for brand recognition (aka Richard Branson); participatory and very visible, they take action socially and locally (aka Danielle Morrill, CEO of refer.ly); and, CEOs who are perhaps more behind the scenes but are smart, authentic and they add value (aka Jeremy Stoppelman of Yelp or Chris Lindland of Betabrand).
76) As a CEO become a marketer like these examples. Be a proactive industry contributor, do guest posts, get involved.
77) Leverage press opportunities. As a CEO you carry more weight and the press are more likely to listen. Bart Lorang of Full Contact introduced Paid Paid Vacation which got a heap of links from massive news outlets (Daily Mail, ABC News, CNBC, Huff Post, Fox etc. etc.).
78) As CEO, get good at least one form of content – podcasts, blogs, thought leadership, video, webinars etc. etc. Just one will do but definitely do one!
79) Publicly recognise the marketing achievements of your staff in the same way you do performance and financial achievements. Props from the boss makes employees feel great!
80) Empower your marketing team with development resources so they can leverage their efforts too.
81) Optimise your online bio and update it regularly too – get links in there as people will use it.
82) CEOs amass favours, ask for links and shares by calling them in.
83) Leverage your contacts to amplify messages. CEOs know a lot of people who know a lot of people.
84) Embrace authenticity. People care more about why a company exists than what it produces. Wealthy people want to be hipsters now and have the latest cool thing that no one else has.
Small Business SEO for £350 per month
85) Small business SEO in this context is aimed at businesses with less than 10 employees. There are over 1 million of these kinds of businesses in the UK and most have a very small (or no) marketing budget. These are great targets for freelancers as you can leverage a really good income through good processes.
86) Get to know your client and understand their business goals so that you in turn can establish some marketing goals to aim for. These should be goals beyond rankings and traffic but real marketing outcomes – this will help you focus on creating content that works towards these goals. The budget is low so it can only do so much, ensure you are focusing on what is most important at the end of the day.
87) Educate your client so you are able to manage their expectations. If they understand what you are doing and why as well as how long it will take they won’t be wasting your time asking why nothing happening fast enough!
88) Make sure the website deserves to rank well, even if that eats up several months of budget. The site needs to be credible online, which means a professional design and a proper brand. It will also convert better and be more likely to attract links.
89) Do a great job on the on-page optimisation. The better this is the fewer links you need to create.
90) Identify orphaned pages and 404s then fix them. Use SEOmoz tools.
91) Improve the site speed using Google Page Speed Tools.
92) Combine thin content pages into better quality pages to concentrate linking opportunities.
93) A small budget is unlikely to allow you to compete for competitive national terms so be great at local optimisation if this will meet realistic business goals. Koozai have some local search guides that are very comprehensive.
94) Ask the customers and suppliers of the small business if they have a website, if they do work out an approach that adds value in order to get a link. For instance, offer a supplier a testimonial or offer a customer a discount.
95) Offering a site audit in return for the opportunity to guest blog can be an effective way to open up linking opportunities.
96) Teapot have built an Link prospecting Tool to help you find linking opportunities. You can nest search operators to find link targets. Aim for DA 30 to 60 and look at domains that link to more than one of those results.
97) Use Buzzstream to find and manage outreach link building prospects.
98) To keep costs down outsource your link data research. Check out Matt Beswick’s Guide to Outsourcing if you haven’t done it before.
99) Use Odesk and double research your list and mark up the following: 1) does the site look good, 2) do they have a blog, and 3) is the blog on topic. All the sites that appear on both lists become your link target outreach list.
100) Draft up a good personalised and targeted outreach email which you send to this target list offering to write a very relevant guest blog. From 25-30 outreach emails you should be expecting a return of 5 successes. Send out in batches of 10 emails so you don’t get too much success and can’t fulfil the offer.
101) Ade recommends using Text Broker for content but it takes a while to find the best writers at the best prices. Don’t ever go for lower than 4 star quality! Here you can favourite writers and build teams.
Out of 5 million infographics only 1.3% will give you an orgasm in 0.3 of a millisecond
102) Infographics are visualisations of data, not just a collection of pretty graphics. Get good data sources, get correct information and present your story well. Sub-standard infographics will die, so make your infographics remarkable!
103) Before starting on the infographic understand your client’s needs and identify a topic and idea that would make a relevant story for your client. Know the answer to the question ‘who is going to care about this infographic?’
104) Work out where your infographic is going before you start to create it. If it’s going on the client site know where it will appear on their site, how it will be linked to internally so people can navigate to it and most importantly know that they can and will publish the image. If it is aimed at a publisher such as Mashable or Engadget pitch it up first so you know they are expecting it and want it.
105) Find a correct and accurate data source – this is so important as incorrect data will get you called out and mean your infographic is useless no matter how good it looks. Research and gather all the data before you start thinking of the design.
106) When you have your data follow these steps: sort it (eliminate the crud), arrange the data so it makes sense, present the data in an order that walks you through the story you are telling. Planning and organising the narrative is essential to creative a remarkable infographic.
107) Now you can start sketching out ideas for design and layout. Pass this to the designers who can take this brief and turn it into a thing of beauty.
108) Test your infographic before publishing – do people understand what the story is? Is it really a visualisation of data and can people learn from what you are presenting? When it passes with flying colours then host the infographic and don’t forget to add analytics!
109) Just like any other great content you need to share your infographic. Seed it out to people who are interested in the data and this should bring you links – as long as it is remarkable.
110) Once promotion is complete look at the analytics and back links, how has this particular infographic performed and what can you learn from the process so you can do it better next time?
111) Watch out for the mistake lots of people make when creating infographics: they are pretty but don’t tell a story. They are hard to read and understand, actual data should be at the core of the content, this is what makes it more interesting and actionable.
112) If you can get your infographic on high domain authority sites such as Mashable it makes it much easier to say “will you share this, it’s been on Mashable”. Get credibility by association.
113) There are lots of different types of infographic that you can create. Know what type yours is so you can keep it focused e.g. statistical, geographical, timelines (these can be evergreen as you can keep adding to them), opinion pieces, seasonal (create well in advance and pitch them to your best targets so you know when and where they are going up).
114) Always have at least three outreach target audiences for your infographic. For instance, an infographic about what 007 would wear to dinner could target 1) film fans, 2) James Bond fans, and 3) fashion bloggers.
115) Make sure your infographic has a very clear header – it should tell you exactly what it’s about, just like any other effective content header.
116) Provide a clear path through your infographic and walk people through it, hold their hands and they will come with you.
117) Be creative and artsy about the design of your infographic images but keep it simple and readable too. Don’t just download stock images.
118) Get exciting with your typography and if possible try to thematically relate it. Try to turn the text into icons if that helps add to the visual representation of your data.
119) Go to Colour Lovers for effective palettes, you don’t want to give your viewers a headache. If you can incorporate your client’s colours into the infographic even better as this can support your branding.
120) Ensure your infographic includes references for the data sources. This gives credibility and recognition to those who did the hard work of pulling the data together in the first place.
121) Put creative commons on your infographic so you can combat theft and get an image credit when it’s used by others – more lovely links!
122) Use Reddit for promoting infographics, it’s very effective
123) Identify outreach targets on LinkedIn and join the groups they are in. It’s much easier to connect, build relationships and outreach to these targets this way.
the future of link building
124) Link building is not dead but don’t do crappy link building because it can be harmful. Good link building is more like content and social love because that is real and sustainable.
125) Avoid the temptation to take risks on quick wins that could give you short term explosive growth but could penalise you long term. Take risks that might not work and not risks that might blow up your business.
126) Concentrate on getting the best most relevant links and forget about manipulating opportunities for a quick win.
127) Do things that result in getting you links. Don’t do anything solely just for the sake of the link.
128) SEO has a reputation for breaking things that ought to work well for communities – this has to stop. SEO has broken directories, article sites, blog commenting, bookmarking, forums, all ruined because of spamming and irrelevancy. Don’t break things! Concentrate on creating genuine relevant content on your site to attract links rather than blasting existing communities with things they don’t want.
129) SEOs are currently breaking infographics by failing to do the primary job of the infographic which is presenting data visually. It’s not a collection of random graphics, it’s data visualisation. Make sure you do infographics exceptionally well and your efforts will survive.
130) Check out Scott Cowley’s Ugly Infographics Pinterest Board for some great examples of what not to do.
131) As a smart online marketer you could be the best online marketers and the next Chief Marketing Office (CMO). Do this stuff right and you will rise to the top. There is huge demand for excellent online marketers.
132) Google will give more weight to verifiable content so make sure you associate your content with a verifiable online profiles.
133) People listen to big brands and celebrities because they trust them. Your brand must be trustworthy and must demonstrate that with the content that is delivered and the value added to the user experience. Big brands have bigger budgets and strong marketing strategies. You might not be able to compete on budget but you can have a strong and effective online marketing strategy.
134) Check out Jamie Steven’s slide deck on Technical Skills for Marketers if you need more technical oomph!
135) Don’t fake this stuff, be real. Imagine if ChromeSync started syncing cookies so that you are the same user everywhere. This takes personalisation to heady heights and imagine what that would do to search.
136) Use analytics to drill down by source, referrer and landing page to find the links that send the biggest number of engaged people. Will has found that the most valuable links are often behind a paywall or are no followed.
137) Check out the Entrepreneurial Design Course by Gary Chou – this is homework for technical design people to level up with marketing.
138) Don’t underestimate your spidey-senses. Good SEOs can deconstruct and reengineer why websites are performing well or badly. They can tell if a link is good or bad. Give yourself credit where it’s due and use your skills to get better results. That way we all win.
139) How do we get to be CMOs or just become better online marketers? Put yourself outside your comfort zone and do something you haven’t done before. Not as in jumping out of a plane or buying a cat but something that exposes you to handling a new situation that could develop your skills.
140) Do this: Call three journalists on the phone to tell them about your tip and get them to run a story on it. Bonus tip: keep in touch with the journalists.
141) Do this: make 10 cold calls on the phone or go door to door. This is guaranteed to make you feel very uncomfortable if you are not a hardcore sales person.
142) Do this if you are an introvert: you don’t need to present at a search conference or a large crowd but try to present to a group of your peers or the board of Directors. If that scares the bejeezus out of you, start by recording a webinar and putting it out there.
143) Do this if you are not in sales: negotiate a discount. It could be with a sales person e.g. when buying a car or it could be in a restaurant or at the hairdressers. Markets are good places to try your hand at bartering. It will make you feel uncomfortable, but your confidence will be boosted afterwards and you’ll have learned something new.
144) Do this to get to know colleagues and stretch your debating muscles: Get together with a few colleagues from departments you don’t normally work with and debate a Harvard Business Review Case Study.
145) Do this: initiate a live usability test. In a coffee shop offer to buy a coffee for someone in return for them doing a live test on your website. Watch what they do to get your user feedback.
146) Do this if you are not technical: install an Apache web server, send traffic until it breaks then fix it.
147) Do this: contribute feedback to an open source project. It doesn’t have to be a very technical response, it could be pointing out a typo but do it. Use things like GitHub.
148) Do this: make something and sell it online. Try to do it end to end, even set up the payment processor yourself.
149) Not creative? Do this: film and edit some video. Use your smart phone and an app. Try to make it look good and put it on YouTube.
150) Not creative? Do this: make a graphic end-to-end then promote it to get 20 shares. You don’t need fancy software, just your imagination and some free tools.
151) Not creative? Do this: remove someone from a digital photo, you’ll learn some useful photo editing skills and it’s fun too!
152) Not a writer? Do this: Write a piece for a publication you previously bought (tip: it doesn’t have to be about marketing, it can be about motorbikes or gardening) and try to get it published.
153) See Will’s slide deck for more examples but basically find ways to put yourself in situations that make you feel uncomfortable to stretch your skill set and learn new things. Also try learning new things that you just haven’t thought of before. Designing a graphic or editing a photo shouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable but it will give you an appreciation of what is involved. This way you are heading towards becoming a full stock marketer and these people make the next CMOs. Just do it!
Did I miss any tips? Let me know below. I wonder how many of you will actually put these tips into action? Wil Reynolds can’t believe how many are not actioning the awesome tips they pick up from conferences. We are and we are loving the experience of delivering great results for clients while also having a great time getting ever more creative with our client’s content. Tell us about your #RCS efforts below too, we are working on a post compiling some inspirational examples so add your voice.
For those of you interested in how I created the animated gifs, I used my iPhone and the kinotopic app. It was super easy!