Five tips for next-generation link earning

Five tips for next-generation link earning

Nothing improves your ranking like the right quality and quantity of inbound links to your site.

Published 17th December 2017

There's more to SEO than links.We can all agree that, more than ever, on-site factors are huge in SEO.From site speed and mobile-readiness, to the diversity and depth of online content that keeps visitors engaged — there’s a lot to focus on.Even so, nothing moves rankings like the right quality and quantity of inbound links to your site.

Entire businesses exist to build links for gaming companies at rapid pace and in large numbers, but from now on this slash-and burn approach is not effective or sustainable.

Affiliates must focus on link earning strategies that build their brand and continually deliver SEO value. In this article, I’ll outline four proven link earning strategies that we at Blueclaw use every day to deliver rankings and traffic for all manner of companies — including affiliates.The main thing that unlocks powerful links is content marketing — material that justifies a link. Unfortunately, bad content takes many — and any — forms in gaming, including:

  • Opinion pieces by people with no opinions
  • News without news
  • Self-obsession from gaming brands

A patronising approach to the readers or punters… and all this can drown out good content and lead to greater competition for the attention of customers, the media and potential partners.

This type of bad content is what we call landfill content marketing.So, what content marketing methodologies actually work and what steps should you follow? 

1) Explore data journalism

Data-driven content marketing is the approach that we at Blueclaw have found to have the most success, across pretty much all the industries we work in. Its definition is straightforward:“Data journalism is a journalism speciality reflecting the increased role that numerical data plays in the production and distribution of information in the digital era.”Data journalism is great in gaming — sport is full of stats, numbers, anomalies and stories.

Likewise, casino, slots, roulette and table games are inextricably linked with topics such as chance, luck and aspiration — so there are many number-crunching angles to take advantage of there too.Data provides a hook that is immediately appreciated by journalists and publishers who are looking to fill space with authoritative content, as well as readers who love a good stat.

So. What are the attributes of data journalism-based content marketing that earns links?

  • It takes time, research and access — but it justifies this with coverage and links
  • It provides more angles for coverage, which helps journalists out and gives them more options for featuring your betting brand
  • It’s modular — it can be used in long form, short form, quotes and headlines
  • It must be genuinely interesting, notable and trustworthy

On that point, trust is key in all link earning and content strategies that depend on building relationships.If your brand delivers inaccurate content that isn’t print-ready, journalists will simply not give you a second chance. Likewise, the ability to deliver a one-off bit of content now and again may have some success, but you won’t become the go-to contact for journalists who want dependable partners.

Building your capacity to become that go-to, utterly dependable resource means you’ll have an easier time getting coverage — and content-hungry sites will come to you for accurate, data-driven material, because of your reputation and the value your content adds to their sites.The outcome? Quality coverage and a much easier time getting (free) links — and you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to do it.

2) The skyscraper methodology

With a focus on proving to websites and publishers that your site truly deserves that link, you’re increasing your chances of success without the need for payment or pleading.Link earning isn’t just another word for link building. One of the best approaches for affiliates is to target sites that have the topicality and authority that can help lift your rankings, and coming up with approaches that can make their existing content even better — and justifying that link.

This is known as the skyscraper methodology, because you’re simply adding another level to existing content that you know the website already has an interest in.

For example, if you run an affiliate site based around sports betting, and you spot a high-value site that has an existing article about the transfer window and you happen to know some strange stats about a particular team or trend, why not offer up this insight to the editor in exchange for a link?The skyscraper methodology means you don’t need to come up with ideas from scratch — just find something you can make better and earn that link.

However, be warned — if your content makes claims that are easily shot down or has stats that are out of date, your coverage will be minimal — and publishers will suspect your next piece will be awful, potentially closing the door to future collaboration. Get the research right.

3) Perfect your pitching

Because of the aforementioned landfill content marketing, websites, journalists and editors are increasingly harassed by people looking for links. For you to have a chance of earning a link — and creating a strong relationship for future collaboration — you must perfect your outreach and pitch strategy.So, here are some things you might be able to emphasise:

  • Is your author particularly well-known or insightful?
  • Does your brand have special credibility?
  • Is there any exclusivity or unique perspectives?

And most importantly:

Empathise with potential partners and audiences

What type of content will resonate with them? What is the right format? Is it text, video, an interactive microsite or the ubiquitous infographic?Understand what site owners, and their readerships, care about and make sure they have that reason to care about your content and a reason to link — data alone isn’t compelling. Data that tells a story is. To create a truly sustainable, scalable and high-impact link earning strategy, you should be continually testing new ways to engage journalists and webmasters. The more specific you can be about the value your content brings to their site and their goals the better.

Does the content you offer engage a key type of reader? Does it bring traffic to a priority area of their site?Focus on what you can do for them —not just what they can do for you. 

4) Get. The. Link.

A well-placed mention of your brand might be something you’re interested in, but it won’t have a big impact on the SERPs.When using content marketing to earn links specifically to support SEO,  understanding how to get the link you need in the most effective place is key.Often, coverage is easier to achieve than a link.That’s why betting brands must focus on creating on-site assets that are linkable. 

That can be a microsite, super-page or insightful and provocative piece of longform writing on your own site. But in every case it should mean that to give readers the full story, journalists and publishers must — and should want to — link to you.Ideally, links then follow as a natural result of how you have structured your link earning campaign and content strategy. But if not — and make sure you are clear and honest with potential media partners that you expect a link — have a plan B for those who are unwilling.​

5) Don’t knock on closed doors

An effective link-earning strategy is one that doesn’t waste time.We all know there are plenty of sites and publishers who simply don’t like linking to betting and gaming sites, household name.

Your team or agency should learn to accept when a link just isn’t possible, and negotiating is a waste of time that could be better spent creating a more fruitful partnership.As in so many areas of digital marketing, doing less of the things that don’t add value is at least as important as doing the things that do add value.​

Summing up

I’ll be talking more about content marketing and link earning at the Berlin Affiliate Conference but, in the meantime, I hope that affiliates reading will take these five steps on board.The key to a stronger, more authoritative and more topical link profile that has a measurable SEO impact is a high-quality approach to link earning. By elevating your outreach strategy beyond what competitors are willing or able to do, your betting brand can unlock rankings and traffic that they can’t — but it does take commitment.

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