Data visualisation is a link building approach that can be very successful when done well. This technique involves creating a visual piece of content, that expresses some data that you have discovered. This could be either your own research or data that has already been gathered by someone else. A data visualisation can be either a static graphic, a piece of interactive content or an animation.
A static graphic is what you might recognise as a traditional infographic. This is an image that visualises the information that you have found. Static graphics have been successful because you can share them with relevant websites and offer them as free content in return for a link (posed a little more delicately this this!) Or you can offer to write an introduction to your graphic and add a backlink yourself within your intro. If you can offer some truly great content that a website’s audience would love, the webmaster will often be happy to link to you. Here’s a static graphic that we did for Vouchercloud, which reveals every country’s top tourist attractions. It’s simple but it proved very effective and got a lot of traction when we launched it.
Interactive content also visualises data but as the name suggests, it has an interactive element too. For instance if you hover over an icon it might reveal additional information, or in some interactive pieces you can enter information like your age and discover when certain events are likely to happen in your lifetime.
Like static graphics interactive pieces can be shared with webmasters, via a simple embed code, in return for a backlink.
The more your content resonates with its intended audience, the better your chance of building quality links, and animation is another way to create engaging data visualisations. Like the other visualisation types we’ve mentioned animations can be easily uploaded and shared on various platforms and media. A simple gif feature can be very effective, or you could create something a lot more complex. What’s key is that it looks great and it’s helpful or entertaining to the target audience. Again you can acquire an attribution link from websites that want to share your content, or you can try and include one in a supporting introduction.
Illustrating that you or your clients are thought leaders is a great way to acquire strong links. There are a few ways to do this, so let’s jump right in.
Guest posting is one of the original link building tactics, and it still has a place (when done right, as with all techniques mentioned here) despite former head of web spam at Google, Matt Cutts, suggesting guest blogging for links should stop a few years back. You offer value to another website by writing an original post for them. They either link back to you or allow you to add a link in the body of your post, or in an author biography section. Sites that openly accept guest posts get inundated with requests so if you are outreaching to blogs, make sure you understand what they publish, make sure you have a strong pitch, and then make sure you write something of real quality. If you do, you can build a relationship, which means the option to build more links in the future.
Reactive commentary is also known as newsjacking. This is where you use a breaking story to share your relevant content, or comments (if you or a client is an industry expert), in order to get coverage, and links, online. You obviously have to keep a close eye on the news to be able to do this, and only bother pitching your content/comments if they are right on topic. For example, when The Sun Motors were discussing temp jobs we offered expert advice from our client Autotech Recruit, who were ideally placed to comment.
As mentioned above, if you or your client is an expert in your field, this is the basis for some quality, and link-worthy content. And you don’t have to do this on the back of a news story. You can pitch journalists, bloggers, vloggers, podcasts and more. Having a strong profile from regularly publishing insightful content really helps here. We gained coverage for our client RS Components with an interview in which their Senior VP of Digital discussed the art of employee retention. It’s a subject in which she has expertise and the pitch fitted perfectly with the publication, The HR Director.
Source: HR Director
Tactical link building
Tactical link building is less PR-orientated than some of the methods mentioned so far, and it gives you a number of other ways to acquire quality links. The following methods are widely practiced and can be hugely successful.
Unlinked brand mentions
An unlinked brand mention is where a mention of your brand is located, somewhere on the internet, without a link pointing back to your site. These mentions are incredibly common and offer a simple way to gain some additional inbound links. There’s lots of guidance on finding these mentions, and once you’ve done that it’s time to select the quality sites mentioning you, and send a polite email asking if they’d be happy to include a link.
Broken link building
This is a technique where you find a broken link, and offer to replace it with content of your own that fills the gap. Broken links detract from a user experience so webmasters are sometimes happy to swap the dead one for your content, if it recreates or improves on it (and your outreach is not pushy). Plus, if you find a broken link, there are ways to find all the other websites that include it, who you can then outreach to. As with unlinked brand mentions, only bother contacting relevant, authoritative sites.
It’s worth noting though that broken link building is a very labour-intensive approach and doesn’t always reap as many rewards as you’d like!
Citations & directory submissions
A citation is a listing on an online directory mentioning your business’ name, phone number, physical address and more. Many directories allow you to include a backlink in your citation, but some don’t. The variety of directories is huge and the quality of them varies wildly, so it’s key to ensure you only submit to good quality sites. Topical directories relating to your niche (such as catering-focused site Mobcater) are worth having, as are directories focused on your business’ physical location (like Warwick Pages, for example). The latter type can help with local SEO as the volume and consistency across citations are a major factor used by search engines to decide where to rank businesses in local search results. There are also a number of more generic business listing directories (such as Yell.com and Yelp) that are considered beneficial, but it pays to be vigilant and check website metrics such as Domain Authority and Spam Score.
Overall, the value of citations and directories has diminished over the last few years because they are often abused by SEOs. These days, they can still pass some value but should be used when it’s genuinely relevant and useful for the website to be part of that directory.
Reciprocal link building
Reciprocal link building is a technique where you link out to another website and they link back to you in return. It can also involve more than two websites, linking to each other with the aim of improving rankings and subsequently increasing traffic. But do reciprocal links work and is this an approach that could lead to penalties in the future?
One issue is that reciprocal linking can be abused. Website owners with more than one site, for instance, can link between their domains. Another point is that if webmasters swap links for SEO benefits, they might not fully considering whether the links would benefit their audience and improve their experience. However, sometimes it might make perfect sense for websites to exchange links and for that to benefit both sites and their users. For example a blog about climate change and a blog about green living – users of each may well be interested in the other.
It comes down to whether an exchange of links would add value to your website and the one you’re linking to. If the other site is related to your niche and it’s authoritative, it would probably be beneficial. But reciprocal links should only form a small portion of your link portfolio, as a large amount would look unnatural and could risk future penalties.