Yes, You Really Can Build Links With Twitter — Whiteboard Friday
Since Rand discussed a scammy link building tactics last week, he decided to tackle a good method that anyone can do. This week Rand has 8 tips on how you can build links using Twitter, yes Twitter! Rand discusses what methods he sees generating links and how you can use them. We’d also love to hear how you are using Twitter to generate links and what you see the future of linking building on Twitter will be.
Howdy SEOmoz fans! Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I am super excited. We’re going to be talking about something that a lot of have a big problem with and that is, how do I actually build real, substantive, long-lasting, valuable links for SEO to my website using Twitter?
People are like, “Oh, you know, Twitter is a great way to do SEO, great way to build connections.” I hear all these people on the sidelines like, “Yeah, really, I kind of like my article spinning robot, thank you very much. That works for me.” To this I am like, if you took the time and energy that you invested in some of these lower quality tactics and put them into some higher quality, tactics like social connections, and this is where a lot of folks will stop you. They’ll be like, “Social connections? Really, Rand? Twitter? Can you actually get direct links from that? I know you get little tweets. You get more followers. You feel good about yourself, like you’re interacting in a community. But do you actually drive real links to your site?”
Let me show you exactly how. I have eight tactics specifically designed to really get real high quality links right to your website. Let’s walk through them
Number one, the serendipitous connection. This is sort of the most ethereal and nondirect of these. The idea being that I am some guy on Twitter and here is some other nice friend on Twitter and we start chatting with each other. We start building a connection, and eventually that connection through good authentic participation and back and forth, the relationship that it builds, turns into links. This happens all the time. I know it is not very scientific, it is not very direct, and it is hard for a link builder to say, “Hey, I am tweeting back and forth with this person and eventually maybe I will get a link from them and then that will make the tweeting worthwhile.” You’re doing a lot more than that. You’re obviously building something real and authentic through that connection, but certainly that serendipitous connection can yield a link.
Now, let me give you seven, much more direct, very targeted ways to earn some links.
Number two, the top X list. This is brilliant from a content perspective. Let me explain how it works. I build a list of like, oh, here’s the number one guy, number two guy, number three guy, number four guy, and number five guy in some particular space. I take that list of those folks and essentially I build it out in the community or the hub or the area that I care about.
Let’s say I am in the business of selling snowboard equipment. So what I want to do is I am going to take the top five snowboarding videos of all time, snowboard stunts. In fact, I might even get more septic because getting more specific yields much better results oftentimes from a link perspective. So, what I want to do is I am going to say the top five snowboarding videos taken in Whistler BC, and I am going to make that a piece of content on my blog, on my website. Maybe it is a blog post, maybe it is just a piece of link bait, maybe it is a list, whatever it is. Then I am going to figure out all the Twitter accounts of all the people who appear in those videos, and I am going to use Twitter as a way I connect to them. I am also going to talk to all the people on Twitter and say, “Hey, does anybody know the best snowboarding videos? Do you have any recommendations?” I am going to reach out to people who have shared snowboarding videos in the past, who have the word snowboard in their profile that I find through a service like Follower Wonk, and I am going to create those top X lists. Then I am going to tweet at all those people and give them all badges for having won that they can place on their websites. Suddenly, I am getting links from all of the top places in industry X.
You can repeat this ad nauseam in all sorts of industries. The wonderful thing that you’re doing is you are curating content. You are finding really good stuff. If you build these great lists, it is not just useful to the people here. It is not just earning you links back to your site. It is also fantastic content itself. You are helping to collate good things on the Internet, good people on the Internet. Here are the top Twitter people to follow in the aerospace field. Here are the best sound engineers in Southern California. Whatever it is, you can build it. You can use Twitter to help build those connections.
Number three, the let me build do find that for you. I know this sounds a little weird, but this is a phenomenal way to make those serendipitous connections turn into reciprocation relationships. So, for example, you see someone on the Web and they are tweeting I need a this or I’m having trouble with this. I will give you a great example. I tweeted recently that my WordPress blog was hacked. It happened to me about three or four months ago. Jeff Sauer from Three Deep Marketing over in Minneapolis reached out to me and said, “Hey, Rand, I’d be happy to help.” I gave him my email address. We connected over email. I gave him my login. He fixed the site. He has been fixing it ever since. He is trying to plug up security holes. He is doing great work. He did it all for free. I couldn’t believe it. I was like, “Jeff, dude, we have to get you a ticket to MozCon. We have to make sure we link into your website.” I try to refer people over to him. What a phenomenal guy. Absolutely phenomenal guy. On the board at MIMA, too. It’s just that effort of reaching out and helping someone. I don’t know how long it took Jeff. I’d like to think it was an hour of Jeff’s time, but I hope that over the course of the next 6 to 12 months I can reciprocate in a great way. People are like this, especially people on the Web who are active on Twitter and in the social word are like this. If you can do something to help them out, they are going to recognize you for it. It happens all the time. It is a great thing to do particularly with people who have active blogs and websites where they are contributing a lot.
Number four, the storyteller, AKA the Summify. This is actually a very simple content building tactic, but the idea here is essentially that people are telling stories through social media, but they are very hard to track unless you are paying attention to every single tweet, like tweet here, tweet there, tweet there. Only this one and maybe this other one down here are relevant to a particular story. What you want to do is take that time and curate these into a followable, directionable narrative. Once you do, the people who are involved in those stories, the people who are mentioned in them are going to tweet and share and link to them. Other people are going to tweet and share and link to them if they are interesting.
Essentially, you are taking content that is being lost on the social web because it is so temporal and you are bringing it together. You can do this from all sorts of places. Summify will let you pull from LinkedIn and Quora and Twitter and Facebook, I believe, from blogs. It’s a great tool to be able to do that, but you can do this manually too, through screen shots and links and telling the story, those kinds of things. The storyteller is very powerful way, particularly in spaces where interesting stories are forming and people care about them on the social web, to build content that people are naturally going to be linking to, particularly the people who are involved. And, of course, you can use the standard Twitter tactic of tweeting at them to tell them about the content individually like @caseyhenry, what’s you actual handle? [Response in background: Casey Hen] Casey Hen, that’s right. @caseyhen, hey you were mentioned here. Hey, we’re linking to your website here. Hey, we wrote about something that you did here. Of course, people want to share those things.
Number five, I know this is a little light because it is in orange, the link suggestion. Perhaps nothing is more obvious and direct, but you really, really need a relationship first to make this work, which is why building relationships with people who are active in your industry or your space and are writing online or blogging or contributing in journalistic practices, run forums, run small business websites, whatever it is, directories, etc. The link suggestion is essentially when you find pieces of content on their site through reading their RSS feed or browsing, and you think to yourself, boy, they really missed out on this, which by the way, I have something written up about that on my blog, or I have that precise product or I have that service. When people ask for that or when they are not even actively asking for it but they have essentially written about it, they’ve curated something, you can suggest a link to them like, @marksuster, hey, I know you mentioned social media startups in Southern California, but you forgot about Awesome. He probably didn’t. I think he is an investor. You should write about them. You should include them as well. Oh, well, great, perfect. That is a direct request for sort of a link for an inclusion in something. Fantastic way to build this up.
Number six, the content to answer your query. I like this one because what happens is you see a lot in the social world. Not just on Twitter, but even on places liked LinkedIn, on Facebook, which I know sometimes can be private, on Google+, on all the networks. On Quora certainly tons of questions. If you can build up the content that answers that query . . . for example, someone might say, “Hey, what are the best thin and light laptops?” You say, “Huh, you know, I see that question come through quite a bit. I am actually going to build up my top recommendations for thin and light laptops.” You can be like here are the top five, here’s who has endorsed them, here is a blog post written about them, here is content from CNET, here are all their specs, here are some graphics, here is some video, whatever it is. You curate that stuff. Come on, man! And then you reply to the people who are asking and those questions come through day after day after day, boom, boom, boom, you can just be replying to them and saying, “Hey, you know, I built this thing because I saw a lot of people asking about it on Twitter,” and yada, yada, yada. That is going to drive some great links and drive some great content too.
Number seven, what I love about this one is the reciprocation aspect and the just general goodness that you add to the world. It’s called the must have testimonial. The idea is simple. People out there on the Web are always looking for people to say nice things about their product that they can use on their website. If you can engage people on Twitter and find those people, particularly in sort of startup types of environments or small business environments or particular local businesses, they love to feature content from people. If you say, hey, I wrote a blog post about how much I loved your restaurant, how much I loved your video hosting service, how much I loved your t-shirt that you designed, how much I love the new eyeglasses that I got from your shop on the Web. Whatever it is, you essentially create kind of that testimonial for them and tweet at them, and say, “Hey, I just want to let you know I really love your stuff. If you would ever like a testimonial, just email me or direct message me. I am following you.” You’ll probably get a follower. You’ll probably get a direct message. They’ll probably put that testimonial on their website, and you’ll get a link back from the testimonial. You’ve done something great for them. You’ve said, hey, I love their product, I want to endorse them. Now this great product or website that you like is linking back to you. It is a win. Huge win.
All right. Last one. Number eight, the biz dev deal. This works so well all the time because essentially businesses, particularly small businesses, medium businesses, even big businesses, are always looking for ways to jumpstart their reach. Anyone who is participating on the social web, chances are really good they’re trying to do a lot of other inbound marketing. That means that if you reach out to them and say, “Hey, you know, we really like what you guys are doing, and we’d love to talk about ways that we could potentially partner,” if you build up that Twitter relationship first, you’re definitely going to get a reply. You’re going to get a reply to that email. They are going to be more likely to like the things that you are doing if they know who you are and they have seen you on Twitter for a while. Building up those serendipitous connections first is going to mean the world when you reach out for a biz dev deal, and biz dev deals almost always include some linking back and forth between your website and websites this other entity might own and that’s going to mean good stuff.
So, when folks say Twitter can’t help you link build, Twitter is not that great for SEO, I want you to look down this list and look down the list below me in the comments where people are going to add tons more awesome ideas and tell you about great stories of how they got links on Twitter, and explain to me how anyone can believe that. Twitter is a phenomenal tool for link building. Great way to do inbound marketing. Such a better use of your time than so many other negative, useless, short-term tactics.
So, I hope you will jump on Twitter. Follow me @randfish and @seomoz, and maybe I’ll be happy to link to you in some future posts.
Thanks, everyone. Take care. See you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.
Originally published at moz.com.