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Backlink is one of the most important off-page ranking factors. Which is why ever since the term SEO was coined, plenty of articles were written to teach people cool and creative ways to build backlinks. Even we ourselves have posted a few articles on how to build backlinks.
The problem with building backlinks is, most of these tactics are short-term and will become obsolete because Google don’t really like them. Google dislike backlinks that are built inorganically, which is why they constantly come up with new algorithms to render these tactics useless.
For example, there was a time when blog directories were a big thing in SEO because all the blogs would submit their link there and get some free backlinks. The blogs that submitted to these directories will have an advantage over those who didn’t simply because they have more backlinks. This doesn’t make sense to Google because these backlinks aren’t proof of the quality of the content. Hence, Google updated their algorithms and before you know it, backlinks from directories are almost worthless now.
Which is why you see plenty of people slowly moving away from link building strategies and moving towards link earning.
The concept of link earning is pretty simple. Instead of using your effort to drop links here and there, put all your effort into building something (could be any resource such as article, tool, e-books, etc) extremely useful and extremely valuable, then give it out for FREE. People will love you for giving out valuable stuff for free, and they will likely share whatever free stuff you’re giving out with their friends or their readers. Then voila, you’ve earned yourself some quality backlinks.
The myth surrounding link earning is a reasonable one. A link earned is almost always far more valuable than a link built. And to prove this point, we’ll show you how we earned hundreds of backlinks to our page and how these backlinks are bringing us thousands of referral traffic every month.
Knowing the benefits of link earning, we set our foot and did it.
Earlier this year (January 2015), we created and launched a free tool called Blog Title Generator.
Anybody could use this tool however they want, but as you would have guessed, people who use this tool are mostly bloggers and content marketers looking for ideas or inspiration for their next blog topic.
Before we created Blog Title Generator, there were already plenty of other tools out there that does the same thing, and they were created by some of the big names as well, such as Hubspot, Portent and Impact.
We knew that if we were to compete with them we can’t just replicate what they have. We needed to create something different and something that is hopefully better than theirs. So in our Blog Title Generator, we added an extra feature that allow people to choose the category of their keywords.
By doing so, it allows users to generate better and more accurate titles. Adding this feature was a great decision as it made our generator stand out from the rest of the competition.
When Blog Title Generator was launched, it got into the first page of Google for the keyword “Blog Title Generator”. And as time goes by, it ascended the rankings and now it is constantly hovering around the 3rd place.
According to Google’s Keyword Planner, “blog title generator” is a keyword that has an average of 1,900 searches per month. So getting into top 3 ranking for this keyword is definitely a major accomplishment for us.
Getting into the top 3 ranking has not just made our tool much more visible, but also made it much more credible. And in turn, has open the doors to many other opportunities, such as getting some big juicy backlinks.
After a few months, our blog title generator got featured in articles with the likes of “10 Blogging Tools You Should Use”, “5 Tools To Generate Blog Titles”, “Free Tools To Improve Your Content Marketing” and etc. Of course, we didn’t make it into every single list, but for the time being, we were delighted with the results.
ShoutMeLoud is one of the biggest marketing blog in India and probably in the world too. To illustrate how big they are, here are some stats:
And as you know, India has the second largest population in the world, which means that the traffic coming from a website ranked 176 in India is tremendous.
To make things even better, the post that Blog Title Generator was featured in was written by Harsh Agrawal himself. ShoutMeLoud frequently accepts guest post, but since Harsh Agrawal is the owner of the blog, his articles has significantly more engagements compared to guest posts.
In addition, our Blog Title Generator was also the first on their list, above Hubspot’s and Impact’s title generator. Even though the list wasn’t organized in any order, being placed the highest on the list is sure to receive a higher click-through rate.
BloggingWizard is a blog that frequently post articles on blogging and blogging tips, therefore, they have a very specific audience – bloggers. And bloggers are exactly what we wanted so getting featured on their blog is a big success.
Both of these links have given us plenty of referral traffic and are still continuing to do so.
Following the success of Blog Title Generator, we decided to continue doing what works. We wanted to emulate its success by creating a second free tool. If you’ve subscribed to our newsletter, you probably could have guessed what our second tool is since we include it in our footers.
This time, the tool we created is an SEO tool called LSIGraph.
We needed to create a tool that is easy to use, and at the same time relevant to our product, SEOPressor. Blog Title Generator was still relevant because a big part of our customers are content marketers, and giving them a free tool made sense, because content marketing and SEO goes hand in hand.
After doing some research and brainstorming, we decided to create a tool that will suggest LSI keywords. LSI keyword is a really important factor when it comes to on-page SEO. Suggesting LSI keywords is also one of the many features in SEOPressor. Which means, we already have the technology to generate LSI Keywords.
And so, we took another few months to create this tool, put it up and let everyone use, for FREE.
After creating it, we crossed our fingers and prayed (figuratively) for the best. Experience has taught us that a few months of effort doesn’t necessarily translate into success.
We launched the website and started to promote it wherever we could.
The response was great, the feedback was great.
LSIGraph got into the first page of Google for the keyword “LSI keyword generator” but that wasn’t a big deal since that keyword only has 30-50 monthly searches.
Our eyes were set on a bigger prize – the first page for the keyword “LSI Keywords”, which has an average monthly search of 1,300.
We promoted it on all our social media accounts, we emailed our readers about this free tool, we dropped links on blogs asking people to try LSIGraph out, we answered questions on Quora and direct the readers to http://www.lsigraph.com, we shared it on blogging communities, SEO forums. Basically, we dropped links whenever we could and whenever opportunity arises.
Now you may be thinking that a lot of what we have done is link building, which is a complete opposite of what I’m trying to advocate in this article – that link earning is better than link building.
Well, I’m not changing my stance. Link earning is indeed great, and links earned are definitely worth more than links built. What I’m trying to say here is that you’ll need to build links before you could earn links.
Without promoting your content or building a few links, your content will be invisible. Nobody would know that you’ve created anything if you don’t tell them.
By promoting our tool and dropping links wherever we could, people got to know about LSIGraph and when they start using it, they realize how great it is and started promoting it for us. That’s where and when our link earning starts.
After our efforts in promoting and building backlinks for LSIGraph, the ranking of it ascended and got to the first page for the term “LSI Keywords”. From then on, our LSIGraph got more traffic and started to earn more and more backlinks.
We got another backlink from ShoutMeLoud and expectedly, the link from ShoutMeLoud brought us a huge amount of traffic and continues to do so.
Another high-quality backlink that we got was from Backlinko. The owner of Backlinko, Brian Dean is one of the top influencers in SEO and is highly respected, and when it comes to backlinks, Brian Dean is the go-to guy. Backlinko has a global Alexa ranking of 6k, so getting a backlink from it is great for us in many aspects.
This link that we got from Backlinko was the perfect example of how building links can lead to earning links.
Brian Dean wrote an article titled SEO Tools: The Complete List (131 SEO Tools Reviewed and Rated). We noticed the article when someone shared it on Inbound.org. After reading though it, we were not surprised that LSIGraph wasn’t on the list, even though some other LSI keyword generators were featured. Afterall, LSIGraph was still fairly new and was still fairly unknown compared to the more established tools.
However, we were confident that LSIGraph was good enough to be included in the huge list of SEO tools, so I left a comment on the Inbound post and suggested LSIGraph to be included.
Of course, I wasn’t the only person in the world that wants their tool to be featured on the page, many others were throwing suggestions of tools at Brian Dean as well. And Brian did agree to have a look at them as well.
Staying true to his words, Brian Dean updated the article and added several more SEO tools. The list is now 153 SEO Tools instead of the initial 131.
When it comes to link earning, the most important aspect is to provide value. The more valuable your content is, the easier it is to earn links. And free tools, are almost always welcomed among marketers.
Another thing to keep in mind is that just because everyone is saying link earning is better than link building, it doesn’t mean you should abandon all your link building strategies. As from our case study, you can see that building links are also a vital part to earn more links. There’s no one solution that fits all, what works for us might not work for you, so go ahead and experiment with ways and strategies. By reading and learning from more sources, you’ll be prepared to do what’s best whenever the opportunity arises.
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Updated: 21 July 2017