Link building is a demanding, but important strategy if search engine optimization (SEO) is a priority for your brand. Without regularly building high-quality links, it will be nearly impossible to get the authority you need to compete for valuable SEO keywords. Of course, you can’t just spam links or build links without discretion; your links need to appear natural, serve a purpose for readers, and play into a high-level strategy for your campaign.
Developing and publishing offsite content is by far the best way to build links, due to its reliability and consistency. However, as you get better at distributing your offsite work, it’s easy to fall into a pattern—a rut that stifles your growth.
Why Link Building Ruts Are Harmful
There are a few distinct reasons why ruts can be harmful:
- They rely on the same domains. Building extra links on the same domain has diminishing returns; to keep seeing strong results, you need to constantly seek out new domains.
- They prevent you from scaling. Scaling is vital for link building success, but it’s impossible to grow if you’re using the same tactics, the same level of content, and the same publishers over and over.
- They limit experimentation. Relying on the same strategies is safe, but it won’t introduce you to new tactics, new publishers, and other new opportunities. For that, you’ll need to experiment.
How to Break Out of Your Link Building Rut
These strategies can break you out of even the deepest link building rut:
- Work with a content-driven link building agency. If you don’t specialize in link building, there’s only so much you can do on your own. Link building agencies have full teams and dedicated resources designed almost exclusively to write better offsite content, work with a diverse network of publishers, and build links more efficiently. Working with one could introduce you to publishers you never would have encountered otherwise, and help you understand where your current tactics are leading you astray. One important thing to note here—not all link building agencies are the same. Directly paying for links in certain contexts could qualify as a link scheme, so make sure you’re working with an agency whose primary focus is high-quality content.
- Discover new publishers and submit bold pitches. If you’re interested in keeping the work in-house, you could turn your attention to discovering new publishers, outside the realms you’re used to perusing. New publishers will grant you fresh domain authority, and introduce you to new contexts and editorial processes that can keep your content writers on their toes. Getting featured in publishers outside your industry or usual circles can be intimidating, but don’t be afraid to submit bold pitches and content ideas—the worst they can say is “no.”
- Cull your underperforming publishers. You can also free up more time for experimentation by clearing your current round table of publishers of your worst performers. Do a thorough analysis of the real return each of your publishers has given you, in terms of domain authority, referral traffic, and brand exposure. Take the bottom 30 to 50 percent and cut them from your regular publication schedule. Then, spend the time you would have spent maintaining those relationships and apply it to new opportunities. You might take a hit in the short-term, but it’s better for your strategy in the long run.
- Focus on onsite content diversity. Turn your attention to developing new, fresh onsite content, instead of always focusing on offsite content. It will give you a good break from focusing on offsite opportunities, and will give you more linking potential in multiple dimensions; you’ll have more onsite assets to include as citations in your offsite work, and if your content is good enough, it might start attracting inbound links of its own. Original research, in-depth discussions, and multimedia content tend to perform extraordinarily well, so concentrate your efforts here.
- Distribute and popularize your content in new channels. Both onsite and offsite content can increase your link building potential if you spend time popularizing it in new channels and mediums. Extending the reach of your onsite content means more people will cite your work in their own content, while syndicating your offsite work can improve your brand reputation and maximize the power of those links with more views and referral traffic. The question is, where should you share and promote these posts? Social media channels are a good start, but you’ll also want to peruse forums and other digital gathering places.
- Develop new guest authors (or guest author personas). If you’re used to publishing most of your offsite content with a single guest author, or with a single author persona, consider changing things up by working new authors or author personas into the mix. New personalities could allow you to master new fields of specialty, write in a different tone of voice, and of course, target new publishers for your content distribution. This also works in your brand’s favor; having multiple authors from different disciplines or with different beats will make your links and content seem even more impressive.
- Collaborate with others. Consider working with a partner, such as another author you see on similar publications, an influencer in your industry, or in some cases, even a competitor, to collaborate on new, high-profile pieces of content. Together, you’ll reach a wider audience than you could have reached alone, and by combining resources, you should be able to create a much more interesting, original, and well-researched piece of work. Working together, you can also exchange tips on which publishers to work with, and where to find new link building opportunities.
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