Ask ten SEOs what you have to do to get more links, and 9 will tell you to ‘build great content’. In stead of taking this answer for granted, it’s even better to ask yourself why this is true.
In fact, everybody is willing to link to your website, article, page, post or whatever; you just have to persuade them into linking to you. The only problem here is that not everybody can be persuaded with the same arguments. However, there are 6 effective principles of persuasion (developed by Robert Cialdini, explained on both Fuelnet and Advisor Today) that you can use to influence your link popularity in a positive way.
The concept: “I’m obligated to give back to you what you first give to me.” But there’s more to reciprocation than just swapping links. Offering something else, such as a service, a discount, a product or advertising space can work like a charm. Even pointing out an error, typo or other mistake on a website can be used as a ‘trading material’. A return link or money aren’t the only trading options you’ve got, use your imagination and creativity!
Example of use: “When I wanted to visit link X on your website, I noticed that the page where it refers to no longer exists. Perhaps <your URL> would be a good replacement for this link?”
2. Commitment and consistency
If someone has linked to you before, they’re probably do it again. You don’t have to ‘prove’ yourself anymore, you’ve already passed that barrier. Getting a second link (to a different URL) is much more easier now, so a higher success rate is guaranteed.
Example of use: “You’ve linked to our website before here-and-here. Perhaps you might enjoy our latest article, so-and-so, as well?“
3. Social proof
People are like sheep; they need leaders to follow. Preferably leaders they can trust. To quote Fuelnet “The two situations where this principle is most powerful are similarity, when someone wants to follow the lead of others; and uncertainty, when someone is unsure of what to do. Laugh tracks on comedy shows exist for this very reason.” Testimonials and other references are similar examples.
Example of use: “Like you’ve probably already read at BBC.co.uk (link) and CNN.com (link), we published an article about…”
Networking really pays off. I’m pretty sure that most of your friends and family don’t have the online authority that can help you to reach the top of the SERPs, so this is just another reason why chatting with folks from your industry is a positive thing.
Also, complimenting others with their website can help, but this approach got killed when almost every single spammer started their link request with ‘You have great website!’.
Example of use: “Hey buddy, did you see my latest article about so-and-so? ;)”
When brand XYZ launches a new product, attention will be hard to get. When Apple launches a new product, they’ll get lots of attention without even having to put effort into it. Whether it’s an iPhone or iCrap, it doesn’t matter. With an authority level like Apple’s, everything is news and linkworthy.
Also, when you’re promoting a big brand, it’s much easier to get something done. Requesting a link to Apple.com is far more easy than asking if someone can link to XYZ.com.
Example of use: “Brand X, world wide market leader, just released their new product Y. Read more about it at <URL>.”
This is where the good content comes in. Good content is hard to find, that’s why lots of people are willing to link to you if you can offer this. If you can provide something interesting that no one else has, you can expect the links pouring in.
Example of use: “We’ve released world breaking research results, which you can find here-and-here.”
Of course, using these principles of persuasion alone aren’t enough. It’s just like the 9 out of 10 SEO’s said; you need good content, but this simply isn’t enough. It’s the appropriate mix of all different factors like content, approach, research and persuasion that brings in the links.