Understanding the motivations behind people (yes, that’s right, the links appear on websites but it is people to which you must appeal to get your link added) giving links can help you increase your success rate because you can craft both your content and promotion strategies to match the motivation of the linking audience.
I’ve mapped out the most common link motivations below under three different headings. Under each motivation I’ve given some suggestions for trying to leverage that motivation to get links.
White Hat Motivations
These are motivations that are purely related to the creation of a good quality article and serving the audience better.
To help establish a reputation for themselves as being a curator of good quality and useful information.
- Create good quality content, particularly ‘complete’ or ‘ultimate’ guides which can become the best source of information on that topic in your industry
- Improve the quality of content by investing in design
- Target websites that do regular ‘link roundups’ or curated lists
- Target people/websites that regularly share content like yours on social media
- Target businesses that share your target customer but aren’t competitors of yours
To improve the quality of their content by providing additional resources, reference material, supporting arguments, examples etc.
- Create content on important topics and/or topics not being covered by others
- Write content with your opinions and arguments on different issues to attract links from those with similar opinions who want to link to a supporting argument
- Build relationships with bloggers in your niche so that you’ll be mentally available to them when they’re writing content and want to provide a link for reference, further reading etc.
- Promote your content through many channels to get wide exposure
Because the entity behind the website being linked to is the sole or part subject of the article and they want to link the mentions to provide additional information for those interested (as above) or merely out of convention. This is an example of an ‘attribution link.’
- Organise and participate in local and industry activities such as events, competitions, projects, collaborative content etc.
- Invest in a PR firm to pitch your stories and activities to journalists for writing about
- Use services like Source Bottle to boost your own PR and awareness amongst bloggers and journalists
- Do regular searches (and set up Google Alerts) for your brand/business name and if you discover that you’ve been mentioned on a website but not linked to, contact that website and ask if they wouldn’t mind adding a link to you website for anyone who might be interested in finding out more about you
These motivations are still essentially editorial but slightly muddied by something other than a pure dedication to creating good content and serving the user.
Because they are friends/colleagues of the person/people behind the site they are linking to and they want to help them out.
- Build relationships with bloggers and others who have websites
- Do favours for your blog and website owning friends
- Be giving; link out from your website and share other people’s content on social media
- Don’t be afraid to email your contacts and ask if they wouldn’t mind sharing/linking to your content (don’t do this too often because it might become annoying)
Because there is a formal relationship or affiliation between the two websites, or the entities behind the websites and they want to acknowledge it with a linked mention e.g. partners, clients, suppliers etc.
- Look for opportunities to create affiliations with other businesses (if it makes good business sense)
- Suggest that you and your partners acknowledge the relationship on your respective websites
Black Hat Motivations
These are motivations that are largely related to the linker receiving some kind of direct benefit rather than wanting to create good quality content and provide a good experience for their readers. I’m not going to give suggestions for appealing to these motivations because we don’t recommend that small businesses pursue a black hat strategy.
To gain a material benefit in exchange for giving the link e.g. payment in money, goods or services.
To gain a return link ie. a ‘link exchange’ or other link as part of a ‘link scheme.’
Because they feel obligated to as part of an established convention e.g. a guest post published on their site would normally include a link back to the author’s site or an image attribution where they have used an image and are linking back to the source.*
The link is going to help them directly e.g. because they own the site being linked to.
*In order for this to be considered black hat, the obligation has to be strong and, even then, Google might not bother to take action against it unless it has been widely abused as with their recent action against ‘guest blogging’ and their previous action against ’embedded infographics.’
When writing content to attract links, always have a linking audience in mind and craft your content to appeal to their interests and motivations.
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Do you ever have different reasons/motivations for linking out from your content?