Most of the advice for building backlinks requires reaching out to strangers, announcing your content, asking for a link, or pitching a guest post. The problem for introverts is that initiating conversations with strangers—whether in person or online—is a nightmare.
I know this because I’m an introvert. When I read advice on how to build links, there’s a pessimist on my shoulder that says, “Just abandon your site. It’s not worth it.” Introversion can be debilitating.
But introvert or not, earning links is necessary for success in search. According to the experts at Google:
— Whitecap SEO (@Whitecap_SEO) October 13, 2016
As an introvert, you can either cling to that “not impossible” and hope your site can rank without earning links, or you can engage in some effective tactics for building backlinks without having to send unsolicited emails.
Increase Backlinks by Publishing the Right Types of Content
“Please cite your sources” is a phrase you probably haven’t heard since college, but it’s a lesson writers follow every day. Professional writing demands citations. Thankfully, when writing for the internet, we’re not required to use Works Cited pages. Instead, we link to our sources.
And when do we link to sources? When we’re looking for proof to back up our claims. We link to research, data, statistics, studies, and survey results that prove the assertions we’re making.
The bottom line is that almost everyone is using content marketing now, and for every best practice listicle published, there are 20,000 others providing the same advice. To stand out and earn links, you need to focus a portion of your content strategy on publishing data-driven content—content that can be referenced by other writers and content marketers to prove a point or support an argument.
How to Write Content That Earns Links Organically
- How We Scaled a Startup from 0 Organic Traffic to 100,000 Visitors/Mo (In About One Year) – Adopt Optimist’s trifecta content marketing strategy: content for search, content for links, and content for social shares.
- Shares Are Not Enough: How to Amplify Your Content and Build Links – The experts at BuzzSumo share the five types of content that tend to earn both social shares and inbound links.
- Content and SEO: Building Linkable Content – Original research, expert roundups, and collaborative projects provide a lot of value to readers and attract more inbound links.
- How a Single Piece of Content Increased Our DA by +7 Points – Combine original research with unique or interactive designs to garner the most attention (and link love).
- The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics – Make it easy for other writers to find relevant statistics by curating data from other studies. According to Moz’s Open Site Explorer, this curated list of statistics on HubSpot has earned nearly 2,500 inbound links.
Enhance Content Visibility and Build Brand Recognition to Earn Inbound Links
Google actually discourages guest posting. Their advice for earning links is simply to write high-quality content—the “if you build it they will come” approach. However, this advice is somewhat confounding considering that you need links to rank, and if you’re not ranking, no one will find your content. How can people link to your content if they can’t find it?
“Everyone likes to focus on the first part of the term content marketing, but they often overlook the word that follows content: marketing. Simply building content just isn’t enough.” – Mike Templeman
Until you get some incoming links, you must find alternative ways to direct traffic from potential linkers to your content. By making your content more visible, you’ll increase the likelihood that your content will be discovered, consumed, and referenced in another site’s post with a link.
How to Market Your Content Without Sending Unsolicited Emails
- Reddit Marketing Guide to Driving Targeted Traffic – Build brand awareness, drive qualified traffic, and attract an interested audience by participating in relevant subreddits.
- How to Attract 9872 Visitors from Quora in One Month – Answering questions on Quora can drive quality traffic to your site and help build your credibility and authority as an expert.
- The Ultimate Guide To Blog Comment Traffic [Yes, It Still Works!] – Blog commenting for link building may be dead (thankfully), but leaving thoughtful and helpful comments on blogs is still an effective way to drive traffic.
- Why Medium is the Best Marketing For Your Blog – Repost content to Medium (which allows for canonical URLs that grant your site original publishing rights) to reach a broader audience.
- 8 Modern Link Acquisition Tactics that Work – Consider purchasing ads on social media and display advertising networks to enhance content visibility.
“Paid amplification tends to work best when you have an audience that you know is likely to pick those things up and potentially link to them, but you don’t already reach them through organic channels.” – Rand Fishkin
Embrace Social Media as a Content Promotion and Audience Engagement Tool
As an introvert, I struggle with my dedication to social media because it’s very public, and I am very private. However, neglecting the power of social media puts you as a significant disadvantage.
Social media enables you to get you content in front of people who wouldn’t see it otherwise, to promote new content to people who’ve expressed interest in what you’re publishing, and to gauge the success or failure of a piece of content by measuring social shares and likes.
The bottom line is that social media is a powerful publishing tool that enables you to market your content to interested audiences—as well as other writers and influencers who may want to link to your content from something they’re writing.
How to Promote and Engage on Social Media Without Getting Overwhelmed
- A Social Media Marketing Guide for Introverts – Get started with social media by focusing on one channel, and avoid the advice that says you should be posting constant updates.
- Social Media Demographics to Inform a Better Segmentation Strategy – To determine which social channel to start with, find the one that’s most used by your target demographic.
- How to Choose the Best Social Media Channels for Your Business – Five additional questions you can ask to narrow down your list of potential social channels to focus on.
- 7 Simple On-Site Changes That’ll Increase Your Social Media Traffic – Adding social sharing buttons and click-to-Tweet links make it easy for visitors to promote your content for you.
- Social Media and SEO: When and How They Work Together – Clicks, shares, and likes on social media can be a powerful indicator of audience engagement.
Consider Approaches to Guest Posting that Don’t Require Sending Cold Emails
Guest posting is a great way to build links, reach broader audiences, and build your personal and business brand. However, the process of guest posting generally consists of finding an editor’s email address and sending him/her a catchy email that sparks a relationship and builds interest in your pitch.
As a writer, this should be easy. As an introvert, it’s grueling. If my career is dependent on how often I’m willing to send unsolicited emails to strangers bragging about my qualifications and begging to write for them, it may be time for a new career.
But the ironic thing is that as a freelance writer, that basically is my job. People post ads for writers online, and I reply to them with qualifications and writing samples. What’s so different, then, about guest posting?
The difference is that the jobs I apply to asked to receive that information from me. For introverts, the dividing line between reasonable and tacky outreach sometimes boils down to the existence of a request.
If you want to guest post but don’t want to send unsolicited emails, look for opportunities where site owners and editors have specifically asked for writers to submit guest posts or become contributors.
How to Find Sites That Have Specifically Requested Guest Post Pitches
- The Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging – Learn how to use search, social media, and competitor research to find publishers who want to receive contributions.
- nDash for Writers – This freelance writing platform lets you submit pitches to hundreds of companies who all joined the platform specifically to find writers and content ideas.
- 150 Sites to Guest Post in 2017 – A regularly updated list of 150 sites that accept guest posts, including links to the contact information and/or submission guidelines for each.
- How to Write the Perfect Article Pitch – When pitching a guest post, follow these best practices to get your pitch read instead of sent straight to the trash folder.
- The Psychology Behind Writing a Great Pitch – Adopt some basic principles of psychology to compose pitches that establish shared values to encourage open and response rates.
Start Your Link Earning Campaign by Adopting a Single Approach
“Sometimes it helps to be a pretend extrovert. There will always be time to be quiet later. But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is key to finding work you love and work that matters.” – Susan Cain
Earning links sounds overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of waking up tomorrow and trying to implement the advice from all of these articles, choose one—possibly the one that sounds the least cringe-inducing—and see how it works for you. Sign up for nDash and send an industry pitch, or create a single profile on a social media channel and start posting updates.
Focusing on a single strategy has multiple benefits: you’ll reduce the likelihood that you’ll get overwhelmed by the effort, and you’ll have cleaner data for learning which strategies work and which aren’t worth the commitment.
Over time, you’ll discover which tactics earn the most links, helping you rank higher in search results without forcing you to play the role of an extrovert.