A Backlink Strategy So Easy, and So Powerful, It Should Be Illegal
A lot of link builders are chasing the holy grail of link bait, spinning mediocre content into somewhat readable articles, and using various web-based programs to distribute those articles to article directories (you know the ones). The other thing that's still happening is paid links, unbelievable as it might sound. Maybe there are nubile link builders out there who don't know any better, or maybe there are SEO companies that are still looking for that quick buck from an ignorant client, but it's amazing to see this tactic persist. What's worse are companies like LinkVana that masquerade as a legit whitehat operation when it obviously wears dark colors.
You don't need to go blackhat to get good backlinks to your site. All you need is a little ingenuity.
Step 1: The Content
The mantra of "content is king" has been beaten to death, but this is important if you want this strategy to work. First, create compelling content. Compelling does not mean "link bait." It also does not mean "create a seed article and spin it into a thousand different variations." Your content needs to be so unique that it almost doesn't look like it's keyword-optimized for anything. It should be something raw, emotional, have personality, obscure facts that somehow haven't made it to the Internet, contain personal experiences and stories, and an element of surprise, mystique or intrigue.
Basically, the content needs to have viral potential. Having something that is more than mere opinion is also a very good idea. Opinions are nice, but they don't always have the greatest linking potential. Facts are often better than mere conjecture. The problem is that coming up with compelling, fact-filled, articles is really hard. On the other hand, this limits your competition because most people are churning out the same drivel day after day with nothing new, interesting, or exciting to add to the mountains of content being published every day.
What you want to happen is this: you create really awesome content. Lots of people pick it up and republish it. Not scraper sites. Legit sites. Maybe you create a tutorial relevant to your niche that's never been created before. Maybe you find an old, outdated tutorial and revamp it to reflect changes in state laws, in processes, or changes in technology in your industry.
When your content gets republished across the web, what happens is there is a lot of duplicate content out there. That's bad right? Wrong. You see, Google doesn’t penalize duplicate content, it filters it so that its results pages aren't filled with the same content for every listing in its search results pages. The so-called penalty is the result of Google wanting to eliminate duplicate content in its search results. However, this doesn't mean that the content isn't valuable.
Think for a moment. How does content on the web propagate? It gets shared, right? This is the whole idea behind viral content. The more people sharing and linking to your content, the better. Here's where people taking your content becomes a boon for you. Now that your content is all over the web, you have to go find it and get those backlinks (since that's the only thing you're missing at this point).
Step 2: Copyscape
Copyscape is a tool usually reserved for fighting plagiarism. You're going to use it to track down your content on the web. The company charges a nominal fee, for each advanced search, but it's worth it. After you find where your content is located, it's a simple matter of contacting the webmaster and asking for a link. Why would they give you a link back to your site? Assuming it's not a scraper site, imagine the conversation you would be having with the owner of that site:
You: "Hello, I saw that you published some content of mine on the site"
The website owner, at this point, becomes very nervous - especially if he didn't ask for permission before republishing it. Turn the tables on his emotional reaction. Wait for his response and then say:
"thank you. I'm glad you found it valuable to your readers. I just wanted to ask you for a small favor. I spent a lot of time researching and writing that article. I would really appreciate it if you could put a citation in there somewhere that links back to my site."
What do you think the webmaster is going to say? Of course he's going to agree. He probably thought you were going to nail him for copyright infringement. Instead, you're thanking him and asking him for a backlink. Score! All you have to do now is rinse and repeat for all of the other sites that have republished your content. Enjoy the new-found link love.