I’m hosting a discussion today at Wave PR’s “Natural (Organic) SEO” Meetup in London on the topic of “How to Get Linked To”. Now, the very concept of ‘getting people to link to you’ doesn’t sound entirely natural, so I’ve been wondering where the boundary lies between the common practise of SEO as we know it (let’s call it “coerced” or “contrived”) and the organic purity of “natural SEO”.
My take is this: natural SEO is doing only what you would normally do when writing a blog post (we’re only really talking about blog’s here, right?), but in a way that maximises their potential to attract inbound links. Based on this premise, I’ve produced a short list of natural SEO tips (below). I hope to be able to embellish this following our discussion today.
1) Be interesting
- Make it topical – If you could predict the news, you’d be top of Google for every breaking story. Become the authoritative post on a news item and you’ll attract more links.
- Include real facts, figures or “quotes” – Bloggers rely on other bloggers for facts and figures. It makes researching posts a collective task and the currency of exchange is links.
- Be controversial – A post entitled “What’s wrong with social media monitoring services?” for example, is bound to raise a few hackles and attract some links.
- Voice opinions – Nobody likes a sit-on-the-fence article.
- Be funny – People share jokes. It’s a fact of life.
2) Be smart
- Give it a killer title! “7 Diseases that make you superhuman” springs to mind as an absolute classic. As does “How to make someone love you”, though evidently there are limitations of credibility when you’re posting such titles in a business context.
- Optimise your post (tags, categories, keywords) – Stick to normal SEO good practise by ensuring your post is clearly labelled and optimised for a small number of industry-specific, descriptive keywords.
- Get people to promote your posts – My friend and colleague Murray Newlands is an expert at this. By posting an interview with someone on his blog (which already ranks highly), he offers that person the chance to be top of Google for their chosen keywords. Take for example his interview with Claire Thompson, the Freelance PR Consultant. It’s already on the first page of Google for that term, and my link to it here has just bumped her up a few places. Why bother optimising your own site if you can rank on someone else’s?
3) Be connected
- Reference lots of other sites, people, businesses (linking to them) and tell them you’ve referenced them. People love to be name-checked and are likely to share the fact with their readers/friends/customers.
- Add trackbacks to blogs you’ve referenced. Trackbacks offer a simple yet effective way of getting highly ranked blogs to link back to your post (it’s the name-checking thing again).
- Post valuable comments on other blogs, referencing your post. Posting a reference to your blog post on other related blogs is perfectly acceptable so long as it’s useful – i.e. it adds value to the post you’ve added it to.
- Bookmark it. Using a social bookmarking service like delicious enables you to make your post available to a wider audience without pushing it down their throats. A simple but useful tool.
4) Be brazen
Ask (or even tell) friends, colleagues and partners to link to you (using your keywords). While paying someone or working up a reciprocal linking deal isn’t really natural SEO, I think leveraging your relationships with friends and colleagues is fine. Hell – that’s what friends are for, isn’t it?