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SEO for beginners with Backlinko’s Brian Dean – part two

By Will Stevens - December 16, 2013

In part one of our interview, Brian Dean of Backlinko took us through the basic of SEO, here we’ll take a more in-depth look at the actual link building process. Links are one of the biggest influencing factors when it comes to search engine rankings and in this section we’ll examine how you can acquire the kind of quality links that will help you attract visitors.

Ready to start attracting links? Brian says…

The best way to get quality, sustainable links at scale is to:

1. Find a topic that people in your industry care about. For example, let’s say you’re in the fitness space. You could cover affordable exercise equipment or new supplements that people may not have heard about.

2. Next, search Google for keywords related to your topic. Following our fitness example, something like “cheap exercise machines” or “new health supplements”.

3. Look at the top 10 results. Pay special attention to any weaknesses that they may have. Is the site design unappealing? Is the information out of date or lacking references? Is there room for more depth?

4. Create content that follows the same basic formula of what’s ranking (after all, if they’re in the top 10 it means they’re doing something right). But make up for any shortcomings that the current top 10 results might have. Make something that’s the best on the web.

5. Reach out to people that would be interested in linking to your content. Resource pages — pages that link to great content on a particular topic — are a great start. You can find resource pages by searching for “keyword” + “helpful resources” in Google. You can also reach out to bloggers and other site owners that would be interested in your new piece of content. The key is really getting your content in front of the people in your industry that have the power to link (in other words, webmasters). If it’s truly something special — and you show it to enough people — you’ll have no problem getting links.

6. Rinse and repeat.

But what if you’re reaching out to people and they’re ignoring you? Brian says…

The first step to building relationships with influencers is to impress them with your site.

A lot of people focus on “warming up” influencers by commenting on their blog posts or sharing their content on social media. While there’s a place for that kind of thing, it won’t do much unless you’re doing something on your site to impress them.

So I’d focus on the foundation (a great site) first. That way, when you get on other people’s radar screens, they’ll be keen to build a relationship with you.

Once you have that, it’s a matter of identifying the movers and shakers in your niche (you can use a blog aggregator site like AllTop to find them), and participating on their site.

You might also want to consider helping them out in some way. Did you find a resource on their site from 2010 that could use an update? Are there broken links on their site? Would they be interested in a guest post? Do they need a hand promoting their new product?

In my experience, influencers in any industry are extremely busy and are very appreciative of free help. Once you’ve lent them a hand and impressed them with your awesome site, you’re in.

So how do you know if your efforts are paying off? Brian says…

The first thing to do is seeing where your site is at in terms of:

• Search engine traffic

• Rankings

• Backlinks

• Social shares

• Engagement (time on site, page views etc.)

These are benchmarks you want to work on as part of your SEO campaign. The two most important are: search engine traffic and rankings.

SEO takes time, but it doesn’t take forever. If after three months of dedicated SEO work you don’t see an increase in search engine traffic and rankings, it’s time to re-evaluate your approach.

In the meantime, there’s no need to keep an eye on your progress every day. Just focus on publishing great content and building links to that content and you’ll see results.

So where might you be going wrong? Brian says…

Staying motivated is something I struggled with when I was first starting out.

Looking back, I realize it was because I was putting my time and energy in all the wrong places. Instead of making my content 1% better, I’d waste time on forums looking for a “tip” that would easily land me more traffic. Instead of emailing 10 people about my new blog post, I’d read an article about “the next big social media network”.

Most sites don’t make the impact they should because they’re not being marketed enough. I’ve read that there are over 164 million blogs online. So for you to stand out, an incredible site isn’t good enough (but it’s a great start). To get results, you need to spend more time off of your site than on your site.

So if you’re not getting the results you want, spend as much time as you can making your existing content a notch above and promoting it as much as you can.

Great advice from Brian, but if you’re still struggling with any aspect of SEO let us know in the comments section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction.