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A strategic link building campaign is more than just picking one or two methods of building links and running with it. To build a well-rounded link portfolio and have the greatest chances of success, you need a combination of credible links and number of links. Today, I want to talk about the credible links and what will move the needle for your SEO campaign.

Knowing What Content Will Attract Links

To get started, you must know which pages on your website are going to have the potential to attract the most links. Some of the most linkable Web pages contain the following types of content:

  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Downloadable PDFs
  • Widgets & Free Apps
  • Company Blog
  • PR
  • Contests
  • Coupons
  • Job Openings
  • Forums

If you don’t find enough content on your website that will attract links, you know where you must put your attention and resources before you begin the link building process.

Know Your Top Competitors In The Search Engines

When we bring a new client into SEO.com, we ask them to provide us with their top five competitors that they feel are their biggest threat online. Nine out of 10 times, they completely miss the mark on who their actual competitors are.

In the SEOmoz Advanced SEO Training Series, Tom Critchlow made a statement that really resonates with me. A competitor is a website that RANKS! This is the top three websites displayed when searching on a keyword or keyphrase, not the biggest businesses in the industry. You shouldn’t worry too much about any of the sites not in those first three positions; they obviously aren’t doing enough things right to be there yet.

After learning who your true competition is, analyzing those competitors link portfolios, anchor text distribution, and most linked-to pages will quickly help you see what they are doing to help them achieve those high rankings.

To analyze competitors backlink portfolios, I use tools like Open Site Explorer, Yahoo Site Explorer, and Majestic SEO to pull my backlink lists for each competitor. Once I have my three lists, I scrub any duplicates and then begin looking at who is linking to this competitor and why. Once you have that, you can quickly see what each competitor is doing the best and apply it to your link building tactics.

Understand What Type Of Content Attracts Links

One thing that is very difficult for people to grasp is the fact that great content attracts links, will eventually rank, and have staying power. It is far too easy these days to purchase a domain, install WordPress, throw up a bunch of crap content on a site, and start building links in hopes of ranking and making some cash. The truth of the matter is, those sites don’t deserve to rank and even if they make it to the top, they won’t stay for very long.

When building a website, it is important to analyze the competition in terms of their content that attracts links. One of my favorite tools I use to research top website content is, again, Open Site Explorer. Through Open Site Explorer, I can quickly analyze the top pages of any domain based on number of backlinks. From this analysis, I can see if my competition has content that is attracting a lot of backlinks. If I don’t have content around the same topic (content that is better than my competitors) my chances of being successful are slim to none.

What it comes down to is the fact that good, linkable content will always win in the end. If you don’t have the resources right now to produce the best content, you probably aren’t ready for SEO.

Know Your Market Defining Keywords

Knowing and understanding the keywords in your niche will quickly help you determine if those keywords will bring visitors looking for more information, or bring visitors looking for purchase a product or service found on your website. To have the most successful SEO campaign and increase your ROI, you want to find the keywords that will bring buying customers to your site.

For example, you take the company “MING Brands,” which sells iPhone Skins. When putting together their SEO campaign, they probably wouldn’t want to target the keyword iPhone, even if a top position would bring you close to 13 million visitors. To have the best chances of success and bring them the highest ROI possible, they would want to focus on keywords like iPhone Skins, iPhone Cases, iPhone Protectors, Etc.

Knowing your market and understanding how potential customers view your market is crucial in finding the best link opportunities.

Knowing Search Queries That Will Uncover Link Opportunities

To find some of the best link opportunities online, you must be comfortable with link building queries. Link building queries are searches equipped with advanced operators to match up your linkable content with prospects from around the Web.

Finding out what these queries are is quite a bit easier if you are using tools such as the one provided by Ontolo. Initially, it is a bit confusing on how to use the tool so here is a detailed description from Search Engine Land on how to use Ontolo’s search query tool. Once you have the queries that will work best for you, you can dive into a highly effective, highly targeted link building campaign that will drive results.

In closing, regardless of if you are doing enterprise SEO or small business SEO, strategic link building is more than just applying a few different tactics here and there. Strategic link building is about putting together a long term strategy, a strategy that is going to take time, a strategy that is going to take effort, and a strategy that will help you achieve the top positions in the SERPs for the keywords you want to rank for.