In this industry, we all love seeing case studies and lists of ways to build backlinks, but often the most successful backlink building strategies don't rely on any existing tactic. Instead, they are based on novel ideas that nobody else has tried before, or at least that haven't been tried very often. How is it possible to design these strategies from whole cloth? What does it take to come up with an original backlinks-building strategy?
Understand the Psychology Behind it
Knowing a bit about the psychology of the web, and of new ideas, can be incredibly powerful. Most successful strategies are going to have at least some of these elements:
- Beneficial for a large number of influencers, possibly even by directly promoting them
- Rely on insider information or a unique combination of existing ideas
- Solve a problem that hasn't been solved by others
- Be conducive to conversation, possibly involving elements of a conversation that is already happening
- Rely on existing relationships with influential people
Your strategy is going to depend on new ideas, and this brainstorming is a crucial part of the process. Simply sitting down and listing as many ideas as you can as soon as they come to mind is a great way to produce new strategies.
Don't censor yourself, and don't limit yourself by thinking too small. The best ideas are often big. Thinking about how a giant business with unlimited funds could go about getting backlinks can actually be helpful. The smaller, within your budget version of these kinds of ideas just might be your best idea.
A bit of insight from the science of creativity can also be useful here:
- Uncertainty and one-solution mindsets are harmful to creativity
- Finding ways to reconcile contradictions is conducive to creating new ideas
- Pay attention to how things are different as well as similar
- Focus on something else when ideas run dry or you become frustrated
- Allow your mind to wander and embrace humor
- If you are employing others to be creative, use incentives wisely. Make it clear that the incentive is specifically for creative work, or the incentive can actually do more harm than good
- The ideal creative group consists of roughly 30 percent creative people, 20 percent conformist people, and 50 percent mixed. No more than 10 percent should be "detail oriented" people.
- Debate can be conducive to creativity if it isn't taken too far.
In contrast with AdWords, testing backlink building strategies isn't clean. It's nearly impossible to test only one thing at a time and it can be costly to avoid using a tactic that might work, just to measure whether or not it has any real impact.
This can be infuriating, because it's possible that a wide variety of the tactics you are using don't actually have any impact, possibly even a negative one. It's very difficult to isolate and measure tactics individually.
A less precise but more effective testing strategy is based on correlations. For example, if you were testing outreach emails, you could compare ten emails that led to links with ten random emails that did not, and measure how they were different from each other.
The main issue with this is that you are likely to end up telling yourself a story about why certain emails worked and others didn't. In an ideal world, somebody who didn't know how successful the emails were would score them objectively based on what tactics were used and how strongly those tactics were used. From there you could compare the scores with what worked.
Testing with this kind of rigor isn't always possible either, of course, but it is a good idea to design tests of this kind and use them periodically in order to refine your strategy.
When you are new to SEO, relying on case studies and the examples of others is often the best way to go, and this information can still be incredibly helpful when you are advanced. That said, developing and refining strategies from scratch is a must if you want to stand out and pull ahead of the competition.
How else can you improve your ability to come up with original backlink building strategies? What other methods are there for testing your strategy? Be sure to pass this along if you thought it was helpful.
Image credit: Seth Waite