Top 4 Ways to Use Social Media to Earn Links – Whiteboard Friday
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Top 4 Ways to Use Social Media to Earn Links – Whiteboard Friday

“Howdy Moz fans and welcome to another edition
of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about social media and using
social to earn links. Now link building is still an important process, an important part
of SEO, and it also drives traffic. Because links are so critical and yet link building
classic link building stuff, like directories or comment spam or buying links, a lot of
those old-school link methodologies and black hat link methodologies are out of there, social
is actually one of the big focus areas for link builders. But it’s a tough thing to do,
and so I want to try and walk you through some tactics to get started with this. These are four of my favorites, and I use
them all the time. This is in fact one of the primary methodologies that I use and that
Moz uses to earn a great majority of the links that we’ve earned over the last five years.
First off, number one, interactions that are in links. This is kind of the classic, “I’m
going to engage with a community, with a person, with a brand, and I’m going to hope that through
those interactions I can earn links back.” If you do this right, you almost always can. First off, I highly recommend interacting
early and often. Early because a lot of times, especially if you’re trying to get links from
a popular site or a popular brand that’s got a strong social presence, being in the first
five or ten comments, interactions, engagements when they post to their Facebook page, when
they make a Google+ post, when they launch a new blog post, when they put up a new video,
really helps you to be seen by the editors who are almost always watching. Whoever is
producing the content is keeping a careful eye on those. Although I know I don’t always respond directly
to Whiteboard Friday comments, for example, I’m almost always reading or someone else
here at Moz is, and you can almost always see us in the comments engaging and interacting. When you do that interaction, make sure you’re
adding value. Please. What I mean by this is you might think it’s great to say, “Hey.
If I say, ‘That was a really great post. I learned a lot. Thank you so much for publishing
it. You’re an inspiration to me.” You haven’t added any value. It’s not that I don’t love
seeing comments like that, trust me. It makes me feel great. Makes me feel like a million
bucks, but it doesn’t add value. It’s not memorable. It doesn’t strike a person as,
“Oh wait. Who is that? I need to learn more about them. I want to figure out their point
of view,” all those kinds of things. By adding value to the conversation, you make
yourself stand out in the comments. This person, if they add value by doing a little bit of
detailed research, by referencing some other content, by making the conversation more interesting,
when you see a post that has great comments, you look at who made those great comments.
You often click to that person’s profile. Those will latently earn you some links. I’ll
talk about those in a sec, but it’s also a great way to get on the radar of those editors. Once you’re on people’s radar, that’s when
you should offer to help. Offer to help out. Oftentimes, the people that I’ve seen have
the most success with this tactic are those who help without being asked to do anything.
For example, I write a blog post with some statistics labeling some stuff, and someone
else goes and does additional research and produces a new graphic based on it and says,
“Hey, Rand, would you like to use this in your post too? I think this is a great visual
representation of the data you collected here.” Oh my god. Not only am I going to put that
in my post, I’m going to want to high five that person, and I’m definitely going to want
to give them link credit back to their site. Those offers to help without being asked are
a great way to use the interactions in a community to drive links back to your own site, and
you can do this, not just on blog posts, but on Facebook pages, on Google+ posts, on YouTube
comments, all that kind of stuff. Number two, searching for link likely outreach
targets. Chances are that if you’re doing any kind of link building campaign specifically,
you’re looking for the right kinds of people who will be likely to link to you if you ask
them or if you engage with them, if you offer them something, if you guest post for them,
if you do some work for them, whatever it is. Using some tools, find people on Plus, Followerwonk,
Google site colon searches, particularly helpful for sites like Pinterest or YouTube or Tumblr,
those kinds of things where you can do a site colon query and you can add lots of parameters
in there. For example, I only want bio pages. So I’m going to do a site colon, LinkedIn/in
to find people who have this particular characteristic. Actually LinkedIn’s own site search and people
search works pretty darn well. I’d add them in here, LinkedIn as well. Fresh Web Explorer, by they way, also very
handy for this, particularly for the blogosphere and finding blogs. Google blog search is pretty
good, but it’s a little random at times. I’m not quite sure I get the relevancy. Fresh
Web Explorer is nice because you can order by feed authority, which generally correlates
very well to the number of readers that a particular feed has. So that’s great for finding
popular blogs. Using a service like Followerwonk or any of
these, you can also do more advanced things. With Wonk in particular, I can find the intersection
of, for example, people who follow me and also follow Moz. Then I can say, “Boy, these
people in here who follow both of us on Twitter, oh my god, they’re fantastic link targets.”
Now I can take that list, I can export it directly, and I can start going through and
saying, “Hey, now give me the domain authority of these sites and let me order this.” Wil
Reynolds from SEER Interactive uses this tactic and blogged about it. I think he was one of
the first to do that. This type of stuff is excellent for that identification process.
Who is going to be a link likely target? Number three, post content that will capture
a target’s attention and then ping them or cc them. For example, let’s say I have a travel
blog or a travel website and I tweet something. I analyze @Hipmunk and @Kayak in my latest
blog post, here’s the URL. You know what’s going to happen as soon as I do this, right?
The people who are monitoring, who are doing the social monitoring for Hipmunk and Kayak,
they are going to go to this URL. They’re going to check it out, and they’re going to
want to see who does better in the rankings. If one of them wins and one of them is clearly
better for certain kinds of things, they’re likely to put that on their press page. They’re
likely to tweet that. They’re likely to endorse it. They might even reach out and ask, “Hey,
here’s some methodology stuff. Did you consider doing it this way or that way,” blah, blah,
blah. It’s starting that conversation, getting the engagement and potentially getting that
endorsement to give you a link right back to your site, which is fantastic. That’s exactly
what you’re looking for. Don’t pander. Do not just go outright and
say, “Oh, I’m going to go gush about this brand.” It’s very transparent, and it doesn’t
work well. It’s inauthentic. It’s easy to spot that. Do make content that the target won’t just
want to retweet or repost through social, but might actually want to reference and link
to. This is why endorsements and recommendations work very well, particularly if you have a
brand or if you happen to be someone that they want an endorsement from. Do any type
of research, data, studies, graphics, videos, content that they would want to post on their
site, that they would want to reference when they create content. That type of stuff can
be invaluable. Number four, finally, when you’re doing social
engagements and you have built up a big community, a big following, you’re posting lots of stuff
that’s getting lots of interactions, retweets, plus ones, shares, likes, etc., what happens
is that you actually earn latent links, and many people in the SEO field believe that
this is actually what’s causing Google to have such a high correlation between things
that rank well and social metrics. This is what happens. I post a graphic to Pinterest. It takes off.
Lots of people repin it. People on Tumblr pick it up and reblog it. It gets a lot of
automated republishing. There are services like Topsy that pick up popular content from
all over the social web, Pinterest included, and then republish that, and that is often
what you’ll see if you go to Open Site Explorer and look at Just Discovered Links. You’ll
see all these kind of republishers who are linking to social stuff, anything that’s been
posted socially. You get included in people’s blog posts editorially, and that leads to
links. No surprise. So this process, just doing this social stuff
gets you these latent links, and that’s one of the reasons that social is such a powerful
channel, because it can be used in all of these direct ways. But even indirectly it’s
earning you links through the content and the interactions that you’re posting. This week you might notice I’m using this
fancy new Moz pen which apparently has my signature on it. Please no one forge me handing
over my mortgage. I don’t actually have a mortgage, and I hope that they’ll be making
these available for some folks because they’re super cool. I just found them in the Whiteboard
room. With that, everyone, I look forward to your
comments. We’ll see you next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.”

8 thoughts on “Top 4 Ways to Use Social Media to Earn Links – Whiteboard Friday

  1. Hey Rand, Greetings from Canada. We're an SEO company here, and we'd like to let you know that everyone at the office keeps up with you regularly. We're absolutely pleased by the quality of your content and services.

    Many Thanks,

  2. Some very good points. May I add link begging, it's mentioned in a new video from you guys above, but to anyone who who's watching this video, social is a great way to ask for links. See heart to heart video above.

  3. Very informative video, but I'd like to access here: and it's not being possible. I need to see video description. But that's ok to watch here. =)

  4. I disagree with one lil thing, if you just post a comment that praise the content , you do add one value : an interaction. And a positive comment can turn someone who wouldn't bother watching into someone who will give it a shot.

  5. As always, great stuff, @Rand Fishkin  You're the man. Seriously considering signing up with @Moz. I could really use your tools for my business.
    (PS- ^^^ see what I did up there? 😉

  6. If I was a MOZ or a Rand Fishken (meaning a world authority) I would find it easy to get links. But I am Vincent Sandford of SEO Synovation and the real world for me and my clients is much harder. Using social media as a primary tool to get links does not work for us. We produce reasonable content and get a small percentage of visitors to our websites thru social media. As result we tailor back our efforts on social media link building as CTR and conversions are very low. However link method 2 is interesting for us and we will try it i its not very time consuming. Do you have other tips to link building for small organisation – and I mean small?

  7. Thank you so much for bringing up the nonintentional spam "good video I love it so much" comments. I am guilty of making these comments myself I admit. Music can be my kryptonite for that. But when it comes to something so mind boggling complex like SEO? Theres almost no reasom to post a crappy little comment about liking it, when theres a button for that right below the video. It's called the like button. Heres where it actually gets crazy Rand, your like buttons on your youtube videos are barely touched even though you have thousands of people who watch and like your videos. I like evey video that I find helpful. Then i comment if I have something to point out or questions.

  8. You are on point with this tactic. I have already used this method to garner interest by commenting first and sharing a unique perspective on the subject matter.

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