Two simple behavioral levers to improve your link building efforts

Two simple behavioral levers to improve your link building efforts

Link building is difficult. Anyone who says otherwise has not done much about it or is trying to sell you a course.

To make it even more difficult, there are a million suspected hacks and tactics for building links on the internet – and most of them are pretty bad. A quick Google search provides you with a wealth of old email templates and tactics, such as retrieving links, which can mislead you because they score well in the search results, or wonder why such articles don't have an expiration date.

When it comes to copper tacks, there are really only two broad strategies to increase the effectiveness of your link building, both come from a framework using the behavioral model of BJ Fogg:

  • Increase motivation (make sure they want to link to you more) or
  • Reduce friction (make it easier for them to link to you)

Link building is a crucial part of SEO, whether your website is small or large.

For example, you can use the BJ Fogg framework to really improve your link creation strategies – despite what your Google searches tell you.

What is BJ Fogg's behavioral model?

The behavioral model of BJ Fogg illustrates that three elements must come together at exactly the same time for a behavior to occur: "Motivation", "Power" and a "Clue". If the desired behavior is not performed, one or more of these elements are missing.

the BJ Fogg behavioral model that helps to derive the two ways to improve link building


Each of these elements consists of sub-components. For example, "Core Motivators" will form the "Motivation" element, "Simplicity Factors" define the "Ability" element, and each of these will work together in the context of the "Prompt".

"Motivation" and "Power" share a compensating relationship because when one is high, the other can be low and still achieve the desired results. For example, if something is difficult to do, success can still be achieved if the motivation is high enough.

When this model is applied for link building, your best chance is to secure a quality link, either to increase someone's link to link to you or to reduce friction to make it easier to link to you.

Let's dive into it.

Method one: increase motivation

If you are trying to increase motivation, find out how you can influence how much the blogger or publisher wants to give you a link. The most important way to do that is to produce really great content. That is really a requirement, for every content program in the long term you cannot cut back on the quality of the content.

But there are also several ways to increase the blogger's motivation to give you a link to that great content:

1. Build reciprocity and play the long game

Creating strong relationships is a clear path to increasing motivation. Your strategic partners can be an "in" for new markets or target groups, and ideally you can offer them the same benefit.

As marketing strategist Mark Lindquist of Mailshake notes, entering into strategic partnerships is not just about building high-profile relationships – it's about working with the right people.

"I am not at all worried about someone's social following as an indication of whether they are worth contacting," he says. "Find out what your goals are, find the people who can help you achieve those goals, and build relationships with them."

Posting guests is a great way to start building these relationships, but it is also important to go to meetings, make phone calls, and generally build your network and help others. A good rule is to first offer something of value before you ask for something in return. It is a long game, but it will ultimately result in a win-win for all involved.

2. Provide clear incentives

& # 39; What's in it for me? "

This is the ultimate question that is central to almost every transaction or every conversation in marketing and business, and with good reason. Grace and gratitude will not get the job done. You must press the self-interest button to encourage action.

If someone spends time and resources helping you, they want to know it is worth their efforts. What incentives can you offer?

If you have a large social base, use it as leverage in the deal. They can appeal to your audience and get essentially free exposure if they are willing to do the same for you.

3. Give them something really useful

If your content really helps someone to improve their own content, it is a much easier sale than an old pitch of "My content is slightly better than what you are already linking to". This is how better content could look like:

New original investigation

At Hubspot we have done original research with the aim of getting a number of links back to our form product. We have published a blog post with the findings, and it was fairly easy to find some links because the data was new and interesting for bloggers.

ahref's example of using research content to improve link building

Source: ahrefs

Exclusive quotes and interviews

Working with influencers is a strategy that works for tons of companies such as DataBox, BigCommerce and Mailshake.

For example, Smart Blogger uses round-up pieces to increase social shares and to make contact with influencers. They contacted bloggers and asked for their best tips for promoting a blog, and the latest article became one of their most successful posts at the time with more than 4,000 shares.

New images and graphs

Infographics and images can become outdated just as easily as blog text. As new research and information become available, images and infographics must be adjusted to display them.

I think the tactic for building an infographic link is sometimes exaggerated, but it can still work if you do it right. It is best if you summarize new data or complex information in a simple and interesting way. A good example is the guide of Pique Tea for intermittent fasting (a complex topic):

Pique Tea & # 39; s example of using infographics for link building


The case study of SEO Smarty shows how they have shared an infographic to scale using MyBlogGuest to get it for potential publishers (they have also earned 10 links with this method).

Or you can do this the old-fashioned way by posting your infographic on your own blog, sharing seed content on social media, and finding potential publications that could use it.

Everything that really improves their content, ask yourself: "How can I improve the content of thousands of people by making something new?"

What questions do you have when reading content that is not answered? Can something that you have written help clarify this?

LawnStarter does this well with their original pieces of research and data analysis. For example, their blog post about the useful insects for your lawn contains backlinks to reputable sources for more information without distracting the general content.

Method two: Reduce friction

The other link building method is to reduce friction or the inherent effort that someone takes to give you a link. Your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for the person on the other side.

1. Make your outreach emails as clear as possible

Good e-mail reach means that the person on the other side of your e-mail does not have to find out what you are trying to say. If they don't understand your request, they probably won't respond to it.

Keep it simple and professional, but don't be afraid to give a little personality, either:

Alex Birkett's example of using e-mail for link building

Image source

There is no need for mystery or ulterior motives. Ask for what you want and tell them why you are asking for it.

2. Deliver your quote or link completely formatted and ready for use

Give publishers as little work as possible. This not only makes it easy for them to do what you want, but it also ensures the quality of the end result. Your link or quote will look exactly as you want it, the anchor text is perfect and you can contact a real "Thank you".

Other sources you can use are HARO or even Slack groups where people are actively looking for quotes. This is a super-poor way to get links – for you and the publisher – because the entry threshold is low.

3. Offer free content by posting guests

Posting guests remains one of the most effective, low-friction ways to earn backlinks. If your message is correct, the publisher need not do anything else but on & # 39; Publish & # 39; to click.

If you can write a good guest post, you give someone free content, which is a win-win. Many publishers have a dedicated contributor program, but even if you don't see it on their website, they can still accept guest posts with a good pitch.

Also don't forget to reduce friction in your own process. Use a cold e-mail program such as Mailshake and a good CRM-like HubSpot to automate and track all your efforts, and remove much of the guesswork about reach and follow-up.

The behavioral model of BJ Fogg has been applied to numerous practical usage scenarios, but the potential for effective link building is hard to ignore. Increasing someone else's motivation and reducing friction may not help you earn every link you seek, but it can help you win bigger and lose smaller as you do it.

Alex Birkett is a Senior Growth Marketing Manager at HubSpot, where he focuses on the growth of freemium users. It can be found on Twitter @iamalexbirkett.

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