Backlinks – Web’s Currency for 2016

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This slide presentation was presented at the Victoria Web Marketing Meetup by our own Reese Richards on November 4th, 2015.

Topics covered in this Backlinks – Still the Web’s Currency for 2016 presentation:

  • Backlinks – What are they and why are they important?
  • Structure of a backlink
  • Good vs Bad backlinks
  • 24 Backlinking Strategies

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[bctt tweet=”24 Backlinking Strategies to increase your rankings in 2016! “]

 

[Transcription] Backlinks – Still the Web’s Currency for 2016

To start off, what are backlinks? Also known as back links, links back, inbound links, incoming links, in links and inward links. Basically, a backlink is any link from one web property to another. From one web property to yours is what we’re looking for. It is a popularity vote for one webmaster to link to another website. Basically, they are saying, “I think that this website that I’m linking to is a solid website, I think it has good content.” Back links are also a major ranking factor for Google’s ranking your websites and the link’s structure of back links are also important. You can see down in the picture here so we have the link itself and the “search engine ranking factors” is what is called the anchor text. That is the wording that you see on a website when you click on the link and it brings you over to another webpage. That’s the anchor text, what you write or what is written as the anchor text is very important as we’ll see later on.

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The most important thing to remember if you’re Google, is to be natural. Natural here doesn’t refer to being naked and walking around outside. No, it refers to how Google looks at your site and your back link structure. If something was natural, i.e. a popular piece of content that hit the web, then what would normally happen to that content in order to gain back links? You have maybe the latest puppy or kitten video that’s going to go viral that the people are going to start sharing it, and people are going to start linking to it and sending emails to friends, “Hey, check out this wicked puppy video!” In that sense it is natural and everyone is linking to it and sharing it and the links that it develops is natural in Google’s eyes. With SEO we’re trying to mimic being natural or we’re trying to do things that Google looks at as if it’s going to be a natural thing that happens when content gets published. Naturally, does your back link profile of your website look like it was not SEO-ed or was not done on purpose? There’s a lot of little factors that Google looks at and they can tell whether something is natural. For example, does your website have zero back links and all of a sudden today it has 10,000 back links? That’s very unnatural. There’s no way in one day that you’ll get 10,000 back links and then none for the remaining days.

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Natural, very important; then there’s also good links and bad links. Not every link is good. Some of the factors that play into the quality of the link or whether it’s good and bad is the quality and the number of outbound links or links that are leaving your website going to somebody else’s website. The inbound links as well, how many links are coming into that webpage, the page rank, domain authority, page authority, citation flow and trust flow of a page. Page rank is not really used anymore but it’s a metric that determines how authoritative the page is. Now we are using things like domain authority and page authority; the authority of that domain in general and the authority of the page that it is linking to or linking from and the relevance of the site. If you have a bunch of links coming from a health site but you sell guns, nope, not healthy. It’s not related; so it’s going to be a problem. Google is going to look at that, see what the content is of the site that is linking to you, and then determine whether your site is related and relevant. Are those links relevant to your site? The more relevant the content of the linking site is, the better is the quality of that back link.

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Referring domains and the content quality. The domains that are linking to you, again, with the domain authority and the page rank, are these quality sites that are linking to your site that is giving you a back link? You don’t want something in a bad neighborhood. Maybe these guys have linked to absolutely everybody. Maybe it’s just a page full of links to anybody and everybody that wants them. Maybe they sell the links. There the quality of that referring domain is not good and it will cause a problem with your rankings.

Anchor text was the wording that you click on when you’re on a webpage. It takes you to another webpage. Sometimes it goes to say, “Click here,” and it’s a highlighted link, well, that is anchor text and it plays a very important role into the ranking of your website and the quality and quantity of your back links. You don’t want to have every anchor text being the same thing. Maybe your site is Bob’s Doors and you sell doors and so you think that, “Oh, I’m going to get some links built and I’ll put Bob’s Doors in every single link.” The anchor text will be “Bob’s Doors”. That’s a problem because Bob’s Doors, if it was natural and people were actually linking to you, there’s no way that everybody would write “Bob’s Doors” as their anchor text. It’s impossible. Naturally people would write things like “Click here,” “Look at these doors,” “Love this style of door,” things like that, that are more of something that a non-webmaster would write.

Then there’s do-follow and no-follow links. Do follow means that you are telling the search engines that you want them to follow the link and give link juice, to give some relevance to the site that you’re linking to. No follow basically says that, “Yes, I’m linking to the site but it could be something like an advertiser and I don’t want to give it any credibility or pass on any link juice so I’m going to make it a no-follow link. Naturally speaking, websites will have many do-follow and many no-follow links. Although do-follow links are more important and will give you a bigger boost as far as back links are concerned, you also need to have no-follow links in order to look natural. As a small local business, many times your competitors don’t have any links so if you’re just putting up a no-follow link, that in and of itself can be enough to boost you up in the rankings.

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Bad links.  Links that, when Google finds them, they will penalize your site and you will lose rankings. These are back links that have been manipulated by SEOs throughout the years and Google has caught on and now they don’t count these links and actually they will harm your website. What are some of these links? Any links that you can get in the thousands are these links, are bad links. If you can pay for links like in the screenshot here from Fiverr.com; don’t buy these links, but here you have 56,999 back links, the pyramid. Then you have 31,001 back links and another 18,000 contextual back links. These are all for $5. As you might imagine, if you buy something for cheap you can expect that it will probably not work. That is what you can get from Fiverr back links. If you buy these back links you will have problems with your rankings. Bad links are paid links, anything that you have to buy or pay for, bad links. Link farms, if you don’t know what the term is don’t worry about it. Don’t order any of those from the internet. Back link pyramids, again, you don’t need to know what they are. Don’t order them. They will get your site penalized.

PBNs are Private Blog Networks. These are… so somebody can mimic the naturality of a bunch of similar sites in a similar niche linking to your — what they call money site. To do this, you would set up maybe 10 or 12 different sites and start populating the sites with content in your niche and then they’re all registered to different people so it looks like a bunch of different people are now linking to your website but you actually own all those blogs. Very difficult set-up; very against Google’s terms of service and not worth your time or effort.

Low quality directories; there’s a bunch of these – any site which lists local businesses. Some of these are good; some of them are bad. You want to check to make sure that the one that you’re getting the links from are actual decent directories. We’ll cover those in a little bit.
Over-optimized links; we talked about anchor text so over-optimizing your links is using the exact same anchor texts for the majority of your links. It is not natural. So over-optimizing it is a red flag to Google and they will penalize your site. Basically any link that is easy to acquire; they are easy to get, generally speaking, it’s not going to be good links or if it’s a bunch of links, 10,000 links. I don’t care if it’s $100, 30,000 links; it’s unnatural and it’s not going to be effective in SEO.

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Okay, so that brings us to some backlinking strategies that do work for 2015 and 2016 and beyond. Twenty-four, I will go into detail with each one. We have featured content, guest posting, website review site, industry comparison, a site called My Blog U, HARO which stands for help a reporter out, competitors’ links, audio sites, donations, blog
reviews, testimonials, reclaiming links, premium paid directories, .edu resource pages, blog aggregators, scoop.it, broken link building, infographics, social platforms, better mousetrap, sponsor events, Wikipedia and ego-bait. Let’s get into it.

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Link Building Strategy #1 – First one, very simple, Featured Content. This one’s very easy to do but you need to have content to feature. It just means putting your best or most important content at the front of whatever your property is. If it’s a WordPress blog or a website, then you can sticky or feature the best content that you have. If you have a top blog post that’s doing very well, so you can feature that at the very top so that everybody that gets to that page will see that first. You can use the Jetpack WordPress plug-in if you are on WordPress to feature the content.

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Link Building Strategy #2 – Number two is Guest Posting. Guest posting has been in the news, SEO news with Matt Cutts, the former head of web spam for Google, saying that he’s devaluing guest posting and any links that are coming from it. That can be said for a lot of different back linking strategies. If you do it properly it is still a very, very valid form of back linking. Doing it properly means being very careful with the way that you reach out to people with the message that you use to reach out. Email or contact forms could be a little bit tricky and you just have to be very careful with how you’re wording it because it is against Google’s TOS (terms of service) to ask for a link. All back links must be earned in the eyes of Google. Another way to get around this is to use Twitter and if you’ve got a Twitter account, just use the search functionality, type in your niche, so SEO, for example, plus the word “guest post” or SEO + “guest author” or SEO + “guest article” and you’ll come up with a bunch of different tweets where people are offering writers the opportunity to post an article and they’ll get a link back. Twitter is an excellent way to reach out
and get these guest posts. Once you have this list you can reach out to them and say, “Hey, I would like to write an article for you.” You either have an article in mind already and you’ve already researched this person’s site and the article fits well or you reach out to them and you ask them if they would like you to write an article in your area of expertise and you get them to suggest what the article could be.

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Link Building Strategy #3 – Website review sites, you know sites that you just go and put in your own website and then people critique the design and the layout of the site. We’re not really using this to get feedback but you can which is great if you have a new site and no one’s ever mentioned if your site is good or not, you can leave your site on one of these websites, criticue.com with a “c” or conceptfeedback.com and you just register and then review other people’s sites and then they will review yours and you get a link back to your site; and maybe some helpful information about how to fix your site.

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Link Building Strategy #4 – Number four, industry comparison. In your industry, just doing a big lists of the most useful industry tools, the top 10 companies in your industry, the top products compared. Here’s an example of one – SEO tools 2015 edition and it has, just look at the shares here roughly 1.6K for Twitter shares and 248 likes Facebook, 218 from LinkedIn. A lot of engagement and a lot of sharing that you get from these industry comparisons. They take a bit to put together, a little bit of research at the beginning but well worth the back links that you get from it.

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Link Building Strategy #5
MyBlogU.com is a blog or writing collaboration platform. This is run by Ann Smarty and it allows you to choose – whether you want to hire a writer or you can ask somebody to write some of your content for free. There are paid and free writers and then there are people that are looking for collaboration on specific articles. If you have maybe an industry comparison for example, you come out with the top 20 products or services or tools in the industry and then you come out to My Blog U and say, “Hey, I’m doing a review of the top SEO tools. I have here fifteen, (or whatever you have), here’s 20. Can you add any to the list?” Then people will weigh in and they will add their contributions to the list and they’re going to link back to their website or their blog from their contribution. You can use this to contribute and get links back. You can use this in order to get content for your own site either free or paid.

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Link Building Strategy #6 – Number six, HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out. It is basically a website that is set up for people to provide their expertise in order to help reporters meet their deadlines. It’s pretty simple, you sign up and you choose what industry you’re in and then you get alerts that are saying this reporter is looking to interview somebody on the subject. Looking for some information and then you provide the information to them and then they give you a link back from their post or their article. Also the media, the studio, or whatever, the newspaper or the radio and you have the possibility of earning a lot more back links from the article itself.

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Link Building Strategy #7 – Number seven, competitors’ links. You know who your competitors are, you can use a tool, a back link tool called Majestic.com. There is a free version and you can compare up to five of your competitors at once and see their back link profiles together so then you can sort through the back link profiles and find ones that they all have in common. And then look at the links that you have coming to your website, find the ones that they have that you don’t have and then reach out to that website asking for a link to yours.

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Link Building Strategy #8 – Number eight, audio sharing sites; there’s a service called Vocaroo.com and you can use this to record your own voice or you can strip out the MP3 of videos that you’ve already uploaded somewhere and that you already have and then you can upload the MP3 to audio sharing sites like Sutros.com or YourListen.com. Basically, these sites are set up for people that are interested in producing music. These are people that would sing and then upload it to the site and people would critique it and maybe get their start. Don’t worry that yours is not an audio recording of music because most of the people on these sites will never be published and you’ll never hear from them again either. It’s okay that your website appears on these sites for a link back.

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Link Building Strategy #9 –
Number nine, donate to charity. It feels good because of that warm, fuzzy feeling. It costs money. Search queries, in quotation marks, “donate to us,” or “sponsors page” or allintitle:”sponsors”. So that means that the word “sponsors” will appear in the title of every search result that is returned. Here’s a screenshot we did allintitle:”sponsors”. This is geo-targeted to me here in Victoria so you see the Bank of Montreal Vancouver Marathon and Sunfest Country Music Festival in Cowichan Valley here on the island. Any one of these you can donate, give them some money and they will give you a link back from their site.

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Link Building Strategy #10
– Number ten is blogger reviews. First is you’ve got to find the bloggers. You can find industry leading bloggers from alltop.com. It lists off all the top blogs and then you reach out to them with an offer of a product or service for free. In return, you’re not asking for a link but you’re suggesting. The law of reciprocity says that they have to kind of give you a link back. I gave you something, now they feel the need to give you something back. That will be usually, hopefully, in the way of a back link to your site. Let’s say you have a product or a service, let’s say a piece of software and you reach out to top bloggers in your niche with the software and say, “Hey, we have this piece of software. We usually sell if for $249.95. I’d really like to get your opinion on this software so I’m sending it to you, free” To reach out to these people you can do email, contact form, social media.

Here’s an example of an email template:
“Hey, [site owner name]! I was searching for some useful link building strategies today and I came across your site. I see that you have a lot of great content on
your site about link building. I’m actually putting together a new e-book called 24 White Hat Link Building Strategies. I’d love to get your feedback on it and if you think that it would provide value to your readers, you might want to mention it on your blog.”

I don’t ask for a link because that’s against Google TOS and if someone gets a hold of that email they can forward it to Google and you can find yourself in trouble. You just want to mention it in a way that makes them feel that they should be giving you a link or that the ideal response is a link back. You’ll find that most people will provide some type of a link back if you got a response from the initial email.

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Link Building Strategy #11 – Number eleven is give testimonials. You probably used a lot of different products or services for the past month or months wherever you live. Go through them, make a list of every
one that you’ve used all the products, all the different services and then think of the ones that are fantastic. Then look to see if they have a testimonial page on their website and reach out with your testimonial and you’ll get a link back that way. Here’s an example, says “You are in good company, meet other awesome people that use our themes”, WordPress themes. You see their testimonial with their name and then a link directly back to their website.

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Link Building Strategy #12 – Number twelve is link reclamation or reclaiming links. You need to have some sort of popularity to begin with for this one because this is going on the web and trying to find mentions of your company or your brand where the website that mentions it does not actually contain a link to you. You use software like buzzsumo.com, it has a free version; socialmention.com also has a free version and the
screenshot is from BuzzSumo. I typed in Viatec, so you can see that Viatec has been mentioned on three of the different results here and then I’ll go in and look at each of the different results, see what the mention is, see if there’s a link back. If there’s not then I’ll reach out.

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Link Building Strategy #13 – Thirteen is free directories. There are hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of free directories. Some of them you know; some of them you probably don’t. Yellow Pages, good to get listed in, don’t pay for it. BrownBook is another one. BrownBook allows you to put in your social media handles which will give a little bit of a boost to your social profiles as well. You can submit your links and a unique description. Don’t submit the same description to everybody. They’ll have more value if it’s a unique description to each of the different directories. Some have the option to deep link which means link deeper into your website, to internal pages. Again,some will allow you to add social media profiles and you can add in whatever link you want. If you don’t have a website, and you have a Facebook page, go on and get a directory set up, claim your profile and then put your Facebook page where it says URL.

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Link Building Strategy #14 – Paid directories, excellent, works well but of course, they cost money.  And some of them are annual costs so you have to pay every year but the benefits from a link that strong kind of outweighs the cost sometimes. The more expensive ones on the top of this list is the Yahoo directory, $300. Here the double stars, meaning that’s annual, so that is yearly cost. You have to determine if the $300 per link is a worthwhile expense for the benefit that you get from it. Are you at position eleven and one link is going to drive you to the first page, then yes, that is worth it for you.

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Link Building Strategy #15 – Number fifteen is .edu resource pages. We’re just searching for dot-edu, educational dot-com. They’re more valuable as links because they’re harder to get and they’re harder for people that are trying to game the system. Because they’re harder to get, they’re more valuable as back links. You want to search for these; the best place to start is EDU resource pages. Your search query will be site:.edu “keyword” and then you can add “resources” to it or add “other sites”. For example site:.edu, the keyword is “veterinarian” and then I have space plus inurl:links. Inurl means somewhere is mentioned the word links and it’s .EDU sites are going to be returned and looking for the keyword “veterinarian”. As you can see I have links from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine and then another one .edu Vet Med. Then you just go over to each of these, look at their page, you see the page on the right here, this is Washington State University and it’s just a big list of links out to veterinary services, resources, groups, organizations, that kind of thing. Find a valuable resource from your site and then offer it up to this resource page and then send them a contact form or send them an email.

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Link Building Strategy #16 – Blog aggregators are number sixteen. These are sites that aggregate blogs so just a big listing of blogs. You want to submit your blogs to these different aggregators. You can search for “blog directory”, “blog directories” or just “submit blog”. Here again make sure you have a unique description for each place. ShoutMeLoud, the screenshot here, shows a listing of 131 manually-verified free blog directories. You can go there and then just start going through the list. Submit your blog to each directory; make sure you have unique description for each one.

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Link Building Strategy #17Scoop.it, it’s kind of like Digg where you’re just scooping popular content from around the web; you’re curating it. This is a no-follow link but it is very easy to get. You just go in and look for a related board. Let’s look for content in your niche and then type it in and use their auto-fill functionality. You’ll want to click one of the topics that auto-fills because that is where you’ll find the Suggest button. When you choose your own topic it will not have a suggest button. Social media, SEO, Mobile and Digital Marketing for example was one of the topics suggested. You go in there and then you punch in your URL, just copy-paste your URL and then click the suggest button.

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Link Building Strategy #18 – Broken link building; this is where you find broken links, links that don’t work in your industry and you reach out to these people and update them with your link which works. You’re updating the broken links with working links from your own site. You search industry resource pages with search queries such as your “keyword” + “links” or “keyword” + “resources” or “keyword” + “resource page” or “recommended site”. There’s a Chrome
extension just Google Chrome extension Check My Links and you’ll find some of the screenshots here is from Check My Links. You go to a resource page, click on Check My Links and it will tell you how many of the links are good and it will highlight them as well. It will tell you how many are bad. Look at the bad links; do you have content that can replace that bad link? If so, reach out; if not, move on.

 

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Link Building Strategy #19 – Number nineteen is infographics. Very difficult and time-consuming to prepare but can get a ton of very, very valuable backlinks from the effort. Research what’s out there already and find the hole. Gather the data and then hire a designer. If you’re not a designer yourself, you can find those people on Upwork or on fiverr.com. Fiverr.com is good for a lot of things, not back linking, but design works. Make sure you sort by reviews when you’re looking for designers. You could probably expect to pay at least a couple of hundred bucks for a decent design of an infographic. Then you want to reach out to blog owners and offer them a unique, personalized write up for each site. This way instead of getting an embedded link, an embedded link is where they embed the graphic onto your page and then you click on it and it links over to your site but embed links can be spammed and a lot of people, black hat SEOs, not the good guys, the bad guys, have been using that technique to get the back links so the embedded link itself has been devalued. Instead try for a contextual link which means that it is a link inside of some text and the text surrounding the link is relevant to your niche. You also want to share wherever you can on your blog and all your social media properties when you’re finished designing your wonderful infographic.

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Link Building Strategy #20
 – Number twenty is social media platforms. All social media platforms allow you to link out to your website. Most of the social media platforms are no-follow links. Still valuable links. Google Plus will give you a do-follow link so make sure that you do deep linking to internal pages on your Google Plus page and a good write up with the links to your main and your internal pages.

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Link Building Strategy #21 -Number twenty-one is building a better mousetrap. You search for what’s already out there in the industry. You find lists or infographics or top whatevers – the best content out there. Find one that’s got a lot of shares so you can check for backlinks for that particular piece of content and then just build it better. You want to find something that’s inferior, build on it, make it absolutely outstanding and then reach out to the people that linked to the inferior piece of content and offer them a brand new, better piece of content to link to.

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Link Building Strategy #22 -Twenty-two is sponsor industry events. This one’s pretty straightforward. Find events in your industry. Check to see if they have sponsor opportunities and then reach out to them. What would you get? Here’s an example of Social Media Camp. Social Media Camp is a very large social media conference that’s held on Vancouver Island in Victoria. Lots of people sponsor the event so you get a link back from a very popular event and this is obviously in your industry (if it’s social media and you’re in that like we are). This will be perfect for Metamend, for example, to sponsor and get a link back.

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Link Building Strategy #23 -Number twenty-three is Wikipedia. This is a no-follow link but is very powerful still. It’s difficult to get because it has to be unbiased. A couple of different ways if you happen to have a company page then you can go into the company page and just basically add some better links to it or links to deeper internal pages from it or in this example one of our clients is Beltone and we wanted to get them ranking for “beltone reviews” so I went and added a link to the Wikipedia page with “beltone reviews” listed as their anchor text or in the anchor text. That one stayed on so sometimes when you suggest to Wikipedia, the editors will remove it if it’s too promotional so make sure it’s very non-biased and it is a wicked piece of content that you’re linking back to. If you don’t have your business listed in Wikipedia then, maybe your business is “cable ties” and
you type in “cable ties” and there’s a big page on cable ties. You can maybe create a PDF or a resource piece that they link out to from that topic.

 

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Link Building Strategy #24 -Number twenty-four is ego-bait content. You stroke somebody’s ego and they will likely give you a backlink. How do you do this? You create a list basically of people or companies and these could be influencers, like social media influencers, top bloggers, people with best blogs, that kind of thing. This example is the top ten climate change influencers on Twitter. The fact that these people were on Twitter in the first place means that they have massive Twitter followings. And these are influencers on Twitter which will do even more for shareability on that platform. You can do it on Twitter, you can do it as blogs, you can do a web page, whatever you want and then you reach out to these people. Something like, “Hey, you were listed as our top ten most influential people when it comes to climate change. I thought you’d be interested.” You send out the article. They feel all good and then they post on their blog and on Twitter, “Hey, we just got listed as the top most influential people on Twitter.” It’s a very, very great strategy; doesn’t take too long. You just need to take the time to come up with seriously good content or really good lists and make sure that you check and these people are actually the biggest influencers. Again you can use BuzzSumo or SocialMention to find out who are these influencers and there are lots of other Twitter tools.

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This page is the final page and this is just ranking all these different strategies by how efficient or effective they are and how easy or hard they are to acquire. If you see a blue that if it’s a plot, ten obviously is the highest, so the higher the blue dot is, the better, the more effective that link is. But then if you follow down to the brown dot, the closer the brown dot is to the ten, so if you have the blue and brown dot together at the top, that’s the most ideal situation. It means that it’s very easy to acquire that link and the link itself is very effective. Just looking through guest posting, feature content for example the first one here is very, very easy to acquire because you already have the content but not effective, okay? It just shows the content at the top of your page. It doesn’t necessarily bring you a slew of new links. Compared to something like Social Media Platforms near the end, very easy
to put a link onto it (the about section on social media platform) and very effective links even though they are no-follow most of them. Google Plus being a do-follow one so very simple strategy. So that should be one of the first things that you do when you leave this presentation is to go in and sign up for all the different social media platforms and just stick your link in there. Wikipedia is also good. Infographics is wicked but very, very difficult to produce or very expensive. Broken link building ranks very high. A Blog review is another one that’s up there. You have the product already, just reach out to somebody. Look out for, on this slide, look for ones that rank high in blue and then rank high in brown as well. Start with those and then move down the list.

That’s it for backlinking strategies for 2016.

Photos from the Meetup event: