Linkable content often does not receive the attention required for substantial link acquisition. This article outlines a simple process for identifying link prospects for any content that hasn't accelerated link acquisition the way you had hoped.
Before outlining the process though, here's a quick overview of 16 methods for acquiring attention from potential link prospects. They're aggregated from the top linkbait promotion articles we found during researching (see links at the end of the article).
1. Link out from the linkbait to known, relevant linkers
2. Mention content in your email newsletter/blog/press release
3. Promote linkable content with Twitter
4. Bookmark it
5. Promote in outgoing email taglines
6. Interview the experts, let them know it's live
7. Forum participation
8. Blog comment thread participation
9. Request links through email
10. Work your personal network
11. Social Content Distribution (Digg, SU etc..)
12. StumbleUpon Ads
13. Pay-per-click ads
14. Participate/answer questions in niche communities
15. Buy banner ads
16. Google alerts for related keywords – comment or reach out to relvant articles
Here's one that we didn't see discussed anywhere…
17. Get links from sites that already link to similar content
In this method you begin with your already-created piece of linkable content – linkbait or otherwise – and gather backlinks to pages with relevant, related content. In this method we're only looking at inbound links to the relevant and similar *pages* and not the whole site.
In walking through this process I'll use this article itself as an example.
Identify Similar, Linkable Content
First you must identify all the keyword phrases relevant to the specific content piece you're promoting. Search those keywords and, from the top 20 (or 100) results, open up all the pages that appear similar to yours. Quantity is of utmost importance – find as many related articles as you can. Relevance is equally important though… the more relevant the articles, the more likely their backlinks could also become your backlinks.
This article, "17 Ways to Accelerate Your Link Bait," is about finding and analyzing targeted link prospects for your linkable content. Similar content is likely to rank for searches such as [promote link bait] and [link bait distribution] and even [get more links to your link bait]. This is where I begin my hunt for relevant, unique and linkable content.
Extract Backlinks from Related, Linkable Content
Thanks to YSE's per-page backlink analysis, made accessible through SEOBook's SEO for Firefox, it's simple to find which sites link to content that's relevant to yours. Paste each related, relevant URL into your browser and use the SEO Toolbar to view Yahoo Page links. Then click the CSV link (assuming you have SEO for Firefox installed) to download a CSV file of all the sites linking in to this URL.
Paste the URLs you export into your Link Qualification Worksheet for further processing, analysis and organization. If the content pages you analyze allows comments, or could benefit by linking to your content, include them in your link prospect list too.
I found that of the 10 articles most-related to this one, it was an SEOmoz post by Tom Critchlow that provided the most prospects (193). When all was said and done I added 125 link prospects to my link qualification worksheet from the 11 articles.
Qualify Your Link Prospects
Qualifying link prospects is one of the most tedious parts of link building. Crank up some good tunes, get another cup of coffee and get cracking… Go through your list by hand and evaluate each URL to see if they represent a true prospect. While you're at it, group them based on the type of opportunity they represent.
While qualifying the 125 prospects from my little dig I cut anything with "feed" in the URL, non-english TLDs, and sites with foreign language URLs, all without visiting the URLs. Upon visiting pages I cut non-English pages as well as those that were obviously duplicate content feed publishers. This left me with 44 URLs.
I then used the Link Qualification Worksheet to qualify each URL. The worksheet comes pre-programed with calculations – based on our experience in automating link research and link prospect qualification for millions of URLs – that enable anyone to measure the Relevance, Value and Potentiality of a link prospect. With this information you can find and concentrate on the link opportunities that will bring the greatest return.
Segment Your Qualified Link Prospects
Once you have separated the wheat from the chaff, it is time to group the opportunities that exist for your specific piece of content. The best time for this is as you're qualifying each page. However, you may not recognize patterns until you're halfway through your list.
As I worked through my list I discovered 8 sites that regularly post SEO story roundups. I was aware of several of them, but several I was not. These became the "Roundup Segment," and because they have linked to link bait distribution articles in the past I will reach out to these folks by hand once this article goes live.
Amongst my potential link prospects I also found a number of Sphinn pages. If I happen to know any of the Sphinners personally it may be worth sending them an email when this article publishes. Because they Sphinned articles similar to this one, it may at least be an interesting read for them. Further, they may choose to distribute it to their community. The Sphinners along with a few Stumblers and Mixxers become my Social Media Segment.
My final segment comprises the 11 articles that contributed the 16 ideas for promoting link bait above. In addition to providing all of my backlink prospects, they are my key targets for link requests and/or comment participation.
Need More Link Prospects? Widen Your Search… Slightly
If you come up short in your dig, consider widening your search. Be careful to not widen it too far.
For example, this article is about promoting linkable content, not a link bait how-to. Therefore I would not necessarily want to pull backlinks to Jim Westergren's Link Bait tactics or Matt Cutts' SEO Advice: linkbait and linkbaiting. Instead I'd first look at articles on link bait that include distribution as one of their internal sections, or articles that discuss content distribution, but not necessarily just for links.
Alternately, if I wanted to get especially aggressive with building links to this article I could pull those backlinks and reach out to everyone with interest in link building. I'd have to spin my outreach a bit – "so you've written your link bait – now what?" People who have linked to [link bait how to]s may have to be sold a bit on why they should mention link bait distribution to their visitors.
Challenges With This Method
What I've outlined here is a by-hand process that doesn't scale well for large content sites that have yet to maximize the links in to their content. Imagine working through a stack of 500 articles! Still, it should work well for agencies or marketers who have a few hours to promote a specific piece of content to the people and sites most likely to provide links.
Further, if your particular piece of linkable content doesn't have many similar pieces of content you may have to broaden the queries you use to find prospects. You may have to go back up the ontological chain some to find related pages for pulling backlinks. Here's a quick sketch of this article's thematic position: marketing < web marketing < SEO < link building < link bait < link bait promotion. If [link bait promotion] related results didn't yield relevant content with backlinks I could go back to [link bait] or even all the way back to [marketing] if I had to.
Good luck, link well and let us know any tweaks or changes you make as you test this method!
11 Link Bait and Linkable Content Promotion Articles
We pulled and analyzed backlinks from the following articles, plus aggregated their ideas in the opening of this article. Some of them may provide trackback links, and some of the authors may simply link back because they find this article relevant.
How To Actually Get Links From Your Linkbait (193 IBL)
Submitting to Social Media Sites for Successful Link Bait (57 IBL)
Email Marketing for Linkbait – It's the Distribution, Stupid (35 IBL)
6 Sure-Fire Tactics to Re-Ignite your Linkbait (22 IBL)
Content Promotion for Link Marketing (9 IBL)
How to promote long term linkbait (8 IBL)
How to Promote Link Bait (3 IBL)
7 Ways to Promote Your Content as Link Bait (2 IBL)
How Can You Make Linkbait Go Viral? (2 IBL)
5 Tips to Maximize the Distribution and Value of Your Link Bait (2 IBL)
Promoting your linkbait (0 IBL)
9 Articles that Discuss Linkable Content Distribution
I include these as examples of articles that tangentally or indirectly discuss link bait promotion – I did not pull and analyze their backlinks but could have if I wanted to be more thorough.
Twitter: Incredibly Valuable Or Utterly Useless As A Link Building Tool? (415 IBL)
Link Building vs Content Promotion for Links (194 IBL)
How To Use Social Proof For Social Content Promotion (162 IBL)
Every Site is Linkbait & Linkerati Worthy (134 IBL)
5 Tips for Content Distribution Networks (114 IBL)
Measure Distribution to Project Content-Focused Link Building (53 IBL)
7 Common Link Baiting Mistakes (22 IBL)
Link Bait: The Down Side (10 IBL)
What Separates Great Linkbait from Mediocre? (8 IBL)