One big lightbulb moment with our link-builders-in-training is when they finally understand how to look at a piece of content and generate an idea, whether it’s to create something new or to realize the potential of adding a resource to that piece of content.
Everyone immediately starts out trying to shoehorn links in, but shoehorned links are bad links and most likely quite dangerous links. It’s almost like they have some sort of wall that goes up and blocks them from being creative at times – and that’s true for myself, too!
A few months ago at a conference, I spoke to a link builder who was asking questions about how I’d get a link in a post. I quickly threw out a couple of ideas to which she said, “I’d never ever have thought that way!”
This made me remember how many “a-ha!” moments we have in our company brainstorms — so today, I thought I’d bring the brainstorming session to you! I’ll look at five sample articles and talk about five fairly easy ways to extend the messages in those articles for links.
Note: For this article I am looking at content only — not social signals, rankings, traffic, or any other metrics. This is strictly to give you examples of how we brainstorm link ideas.
In all these cases, my advice would be this:
First, let’s look at an article from Dana’s Delightful Bunnies on basic bunny care. (You can read the full article here.)
This piece presented several opportunities for link building through content expansion. Here are some possibilities:
Idea #1: Create a downloadable checklist with similar information. Ask for a link on their page in the Recommended Links section.
Idea #2: The article contains the following quote:
There are extensive lists of bunny safe foods on the internet and I recommend you Google to see what is safe or toxic to bunnies.
Idea #3: Along similar lines, you could create a “Can my rabbit eat this?” page, in which a user enters an item and gets an answer with a link to more information. Ask for a link to this page in the Recommended Links section.
Idea #4: The article contains the following quote:
Exercise – your bunny needs time outside of its cage. At least an hour a day is recommended but many people choose to litter train their rabbit and give them more time outside of their cage, than inside the cage. I personally have several bunnies that are never put in a cage. Just make sure that the area that your bunny will be spending most of his time it bunny-proofed.
Create a page about how to build your own rabbit exercise den and contact them to get a link here.
Idea #5: The article contains the following quote:
Bunnies have their own unique way of communicating with you. They will bump their head into your foot to nudge you when they want attention. They have “happy hops” and they flatten themselves and put their ears back when they’re scared. They will also thump when they feel they are in danger. Again, Google can help you to learn all about what your bun is trying to say to you.
Create a video with common rabbit behaviors entitled, “What your rabbit is trying to tell you,” and contact them to get a link here.
Now, let’s check out Southern Exposure Seed Exchange’s Fall/Winter Gardening Guide. (You can read the full guide here.) I’d bookmarked this site back in the summer and visit it frequently.
Here are some content creation ideas, based on the guide’s content, that could make for good link building opportunities:
Idea #1: Write an article (with loads of images) about cool ideas for making raised beds.
Idea #2: Write an article about how to make your own mulch.
Idea #3: Produce a video of how to build a raised bed.
Idea #4: Write an article that details harvesting notes for specific crops.
Idea #5: Write a post about good cover crops, with lots of images and links to where you can buy them.
Bonus Tip: See the bit about “opinions current as of 2009″? To me, that’s begging for an update — so contact the author, mention that he might want to update the post, and use this exchange to start a relationship. That way, when you write something relevant, you can show it to him and maybe get some social love or link love.
Next up is Nerd Fitness’s post, A Beginner’s Guide To Getting In Shape. This post has it all: fun graphics, great design, and total suck-you-in-’til-you-read-it-all-ishness. It’s informative and links out very relevantly. I just love this one!
Here are some ideas for relevant content you could create based on the article:
Idea #1: Write a post about your last failed attempt to get in shape and discuss why you failed.
Idea #2: Write an article about which exercises are least likely to be given up within the first 6 months.
Idea #3: Write an article about how to use your desk time to do some mini workouts in the office.
Idea #4: Create a new video game-themed workout like his Angry Birds workout.
Idea #5: Create a series where you showcase someone who’s overcome many challenges in order to get in shape.
This post on Slicing Up Eyeballs was so well done and fascinating that it’s hard to add to it, but here are a few ideas:
Idea #1: Create a Spotify playlist with the singles from each album listed and contact them to point them to it.
Idea #2: Pick an album and research the history of its production. Write a post about it and contact them to see if they’d link to it in the relevant album section.
Idea #3: Look at the comments and write a post listing the suggestions the commenters made for additional choices, then comment and point them all to it. Hopefully you’ll get some social love at least! (If you’re terrified of links in comments feel free to ignore this but hey, I think it’s a relevant thing to do here.)
Idea #4: Create a YouTube playlist with as many videos as possible from each of the top 10 albums, and contact them to see if they would link to it. (If anyone does create this, please let me know since I could use it on the treadmill.)
Idea #2: Do a “Where are they now?” article about the bands with the top 10 albums.
Love this post on WooHome, “40 Fantastic Ways Of How To Reuse Old Wooden Pallets!
However, I am one of those people who has to read something to understand it, so simply seeing a picture just isn’t enough for me. Thus, a post like this is a prime target for supplemental content ideas:
Idea #1: Pick a couple of the projects and write down instructions for building them. Include material list and total project cost. Contact the site and ask for a link.
Idea #2: Write a piece about how to use old pallets for holiday decorating.
Idea #3: Build something for a local school out of old pallets and ask if the school can link to your post that you write about it. Contact the site to say they inspired you!
Idea #4: Create a post listing sources for finding old pallets.
Idea #5: Write a more specific post about using pallets in your garden.
Yes, if you create thin crap that adds nothing of value to the original piece, you thus get a polite “no thanks” when you ask for a link. Please don’t think that I’m asking you to bloat up the internet with garbage content.
Yes, if you do nothing else besides use someone else’s work to create your own — that’s no better than relying solely on guest posting or article comments for link building. Remember, you need to diversify your tactics.
Yes, if you expect to generate links, traffic, and social love just because you’re flattering someone.
As I said, my ideas here are just off-the-top-of-my-head quick ones, designed to help you see the potential of expanding content. (So before anyone tells me that there are already loads of posts about how to use old pallets for holiday decorating, please remember that.)
This is definitely oversimplifying the whole process of content creation, but I do feel like it’s a beneficial exercise in learning to see more possibilities everywhere.