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How to Get Authority Links – Do Their Homework

Over the past 14 years, I've had the privilege to work with some large content publishing websites.  They usually call me for SEO or social media consulting.  Almost invariably the conversation quickly shifts to their content development efforts. Usually someone will ask me how to get authority links in a post-Penguin world.  My answer is always the same.  You need a system that creates content that people want to consume and share.

At the risk of sounding old, in 2001 I started using good content to gain the right type of links.  Since then my team has refined the process and been very successful.  It takes time and patience, but this is how to get authority links: Make great content that does the homework of journalists and bloggers.  Below is just one particular system for getting links from newspapers and local TV stations.  Be careful; this system could make you very successful.

Get a Few Good Relationships

Not everyone has an internal public relations team, so sometimes you have be your own publicist.  This means you need to cultivate and nurture relationships with journalists and bloggers.  It's easier than you think but does take some dedication.  So get ready to spend at least a month or two trolling LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs and interacting with journalists that cover your industry.

Leave a few comments on their blogs, follow them on Twitter and try and connect with them on LinkedIn.  Not all at once, but naturally.  Be real.  Let them know that you are interested in the industry and perform your own research on the topic. In the old days, we called this the "5 Points of Contact" method.  We would get interested in the content of journalists and bloggers and become part of their community.  It still works.  Best advice we can give is to be sincere.  Your reputation is always at stake.  But let's get back to the system of getting links.

Providing some insightful comments on G+ profiles is also a great way to start the conversation with these journalists.  Be ready to answer some detailed questions about your topic so you can demonstrate your domain knowledge.

Once you get 4-6 good relationships, you are ready to begin interacting with your new found influential friends.

Some History

You need to understand how journalists think.  There is a level of professionalism, but it boils down to this:  Do their homework. 

In the old days, newspapers had research desks that would help journalists and reporters gather information.  When newspapers started losing profitability, cuts were made.  The research desk was reduced or eliminated altogether.  That is where we see the biggest potential for our content.

Now...how to get authority links the right way.

Follow a System

Creating content that attracts the Editorial community is not simple but is a repeatable process.  The graphic below depicts a deliberate content workflow that has intent.  Your articles/posts will have much more depth and potential than just writing a flat (thin) post about your topic.

How to Get Authority Links - content development process

Know Your Audience

It may sound silly in 2013 to say this but YOU HAVE TO DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE.  Many content teams think they know their audience.  When I ask them to show me the document where this is defined, they have very little if anything.

Go through a Persona Workshop.  The process I use for my clients begins with defining the tasks, problems or goals of 4-6 personas that meet your business goals.  Research the keywords associated with these conversations. Create keyword clusters with volume of searches.  Prioritize the focus of these personas.  Yes, it's a tedious process.  If it were easy everybody would have high conversions and tons of authority links.

One of our personas is usually a media type or blogger.  We always like to define what an industry blogger would want from our content.  Once you have a solid grip on who your are talking to, many decisions become clearer.  Not just for content.  Design, product and usability issues also get easier too.  But let's get back to the process of getting great links using awesome content.

Define Your Goals

There are many different reasons to write content.  Make sure you have defined goals in mind before you begin any content effort.  Here is a list of a few goals I always review for the content process:

  • SEO - Keyword targets, ranking target; Can I overcome the existing websites in the Top 10?  What kind of effort is necessary?  Will websites link to it?
  • Social media - Can my content effort gain shares, comments and applause (like, +1s)?
  • Business goals - Will my content drive conversions into my revenue streams?
  • Syndication - Is this something that my affiliates will pick up and give attribution?
  • Public Relations - How can I get this content to be localized?  Is there a local news angle?  Will journalists like this?

Check The Competition

It's time to find a great opportunity for placement in natural search.

Almost simultaneously we are looking for a good keyword for our content and areas where the competition is weak.  We make the determination of a weak market by looking at the top 10 results for our selected keyword phrase.  If  we notice there are only stories, articles or otherwise thin content, we are on the right track.  From there a quick review of the back links for the top 7 can tell us if we will have strong resistance.

Mostly we are hoping to get into the top 5 for a relevant keyword so we can demonstrate our authority on the subject.

This keyword research also allows you to find bloggers that cover this industry. But that is another blog post.

Let's continue to the next step for getting the attention of journos.

Gather Your Data Sources

There is a lot of good data out there.  The trick is to use it in a manner that hits your defined goals.  Look internally for your first data source.  Do you gather data about a particular product or service?  Scrub the personal data out of it and try and find meaningful trends.  Any data you have that is national can be broken down by state.

Once you have found something great from within your business, now you can look at external sources and get creative.  Here are just a few good sources:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics - While its still official, the criteria changes from time to time.
  • Census data - This is still solid data.  Here you can find crime statistics, population data and other great standards.
  • University studies - Newswise.com has a list of all recent university studies.
  • Think tanks - Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute and others publish all kinds of well researched data.
  • Corporations - Insurance companies are really good at providing research from their actuaries.
  • Research groups - Celent, MRI, Jupiter, Forrester, ComScore all provide great data sources;

Perform a survey

But none of these are as good as gathering your own data.  The strongest and possibly the easiest method for doing that is the survey.  Create a "straw man" that is indicative of a typical user of a product or service.  Then determine what markets you want to survey.  Like I said above, this is not a quick process but the payoff is HUGE.  Once you become the source for a unique set of data your authority on the subject will go through the roof.

Contact me to learn more about this entire process.  We help companies get their content teams working towards measurable goals.  561-602-2835    Shameless plug...now back to the system.

Get Creative

Now you are ready to start making the magic.  Take your internal data or the survey data if you have it and apply it to any of the external data sources.  My favorite is to put crime statistics next to any of my internal data to try and find a trend.  If that does not work, I will apply employment statistics or any other standard data source to make my content appealing.

This is where my crazy ideas can begin to take shape.  I have so many discarded ideas that one day will have the right data source to make them great.  You should too.  Keep a log of your ideas so you can come back to them later.  The goal is to get creative and follow every idea to its logical conclusion.  You may surprise yourself with what you can create.

Once I have found something that makes sense and is unique, I make sure no one else has published a similar study.

Charts & Graphs

Don't know how many times this phrase has been repeated but it sure is a lot.  You need to make a chart or graph depicting your great content / data.  You may also want to create the post or article that analyzes your data but that should come after you solicit your data to the bloggers and journalists.

Here is an example from Interest.com that worked quite well.

Chart ExampleIn this particular instance, the story rather than the chart gained the most links because we promoted the story.  But the system was the same.  We created something new for the market.  This effort gained links from USNews.com, many local newspapers and TV stations.  We continue to contact more local news outlets to get even more exposure.

The great part about this effort was all the data is from public sources.  We did not have to perform a laborious survey or spend months crunching numbers.  We used the most recent median home price and median income data from the US Census.  All we did was perform some unique mathematics that had not been done before.

Then we contacted the local journalists and offered them a sneak preview of the data before we published it.  It allowed the journalists to get their ideas together and begin pitching the story to their editors.  We had links coming into this content within a couple of days after we published.

Summary

So if you want to get the attention and favor with journalists, start performing some data research.  Post the data to your blog and offer your insight.  At first you will probably need to give away your work before your publish and be available for answers.  In many instances we get asked for interviews to supplement the journalist's stories.

During the interview or in your correspondence you can ask them to "offer the full source" in their article.  Notice how I said "offer the full source".  This is much more professional than asking for a link.  Be sure to speak the journalist parlance at all times.

This is a good bit of work but really worth the effort.  This type of work guards your website from Panda and Penguin violations.  It's the only way we work.  When you concentrate on producing great content everything else falls into place.  Traffic, links, social signals and great relationships with industry influencers are all at your fingertips.

As I said before, be careful.  This is a powerful system when used properly.

Contact me if you would like more information about this process.  Add me to your circles, +Rudy De La Garza on Google+ to stay in the conversation or follow me on Twitter!

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