Linkbuilding is still regarded as one of the most important factors when it comes to getting your site ranking well in search engines, especially Google. How to get those links always is one of the big issues. There is always the option of e-mailing websites trying to get a link on them, but that in most cases is a lot of work, plus you really need to do that right, doing it wrong is a waste of your valuable time. Other options are off course doing “linkbait” or there is the option of using services like Eightfold Logic Linker, which helps you find ‘suitable’ linkpartners. But still the best way to get the most valuable links is to write great content which others will pick up.
The question however is: how do you know what others will pick up? There are many “wrap up posts” out there, posts which give you a quick overview of what has been written around the web. The big sites are doing it on a daily basis, others weekly. These kind of wrap ups are very useful, for the readers to filter out what was important to read in the enormous amount of blog posts out there, as well as for the blog owners who through these posts have a way of spreading their content. And getting links…
But getting your article mentioned in these posts isn’t that easy. There are a lot of factors which decide if your article is worth it to be mentioned. Which factors? Well, why not ask the sources directly? I asked Barry Schwartz, who is responsible for the “Searchcap” wrap up on Searchengineland and who makes wrap ups for SERoundtable, Danny Goodwin, who collects stories for the “Search Week in Review” on Searchenginewatch and Susanne Koch, who does the weekly “Pandia Search Engine News Wrap-up” together with her husband Per Koch, on Pandia.com. Combined with my own experience on this (I’ve made these kind of posts several times, the State of Search news roundup which will return in 2011 is an example of that) you can get a pretty decent overview of what you should be doing to get ‘in sight” of these influentials.
You could say that the people writing the wrap up posts are influentials. Lets call them that from now on, after all, they decide if a post is good enough and if more people get to see it. So we should listen to them with attention. Let’s therefore first take a look at some of the things the influentials said.
Off course its ladies first. Susanne tells us she is subscribed to many RSS Feeds and has to filter out the stories she will be posting from these. With that she tends to look at “strong news value — especially topics we for some reason do not cover ourselves“. She wants ‘different’ articles in her wrap up post, articles which you don’t see that often on other sites.
Barry over at Searchengineland is also subscribed to many feeds. He tells us that RSS is the main way to find what he thinks is important: “I find 85% of the stuff on SELand via RSS feeds, including search subscriptions on Google News, blogs, twitter searchers, etc.“. He also mentions that Twitter only accounts for a small percentage of how he finds the links and that he also gets e-mail tips. When it comes to items for SERoundtable he mainly looks at the forums.
When it comes to which one of the posts he sees he will select he clearly goes for quality: “I look to see if the article is either very helpful SEM wise or unique and interesting to our readers.” And he makes a very interesting point: “I don’t spend much time making the decision, so it has to catch my eye quickly.”
Add on: Barry also e-mailed this extra information:
At Searchengineland they use a custom-built author budgeting system to manage the SearchCap and story distribution which was actually built by Barry and named “RustyBudget” (cool name ). TechCrunch has written a review of it. More details about this at Barry’s site here and his CartoonBarry site.
Barry explains how Searchengineland does its job: “Every morning by 6am (EST), I make sure to distribute out what authors should write about. Then continue throughout the day. Plus add items to the searchcap as well via this system. Matt McGee, Greg Sterling, Danny Sullivan and all our daily editors use it to add stories and cover stories.”
Danny Goodwin also names RSS as the most important way to find stories for his wrap up on Searchenginewatch. He also stresses the importance of standing out: “Granted, a lot of those posts are skippable or repetitive of previous reports, but it’s worth it when you find a good news story or advice for the readers.” Next to that Danny also mentions Techmeme (Barry did too by the way), and Twitter, but like Barry said, Danny believes Twitter is only a minor source: “Twitter is another source, but the stories I see on Twitter generally I’ve already found via RSS.”
At Searchenginewatch they have a real system set up to find and collect the most important posts: “Every morning, I compile a list of the best advice and news items from around the web published during the previous 24 hours (or over the weekend) for our SearchDay e-mail newsletter. The goal is to arm our subscribers with the latest info by 10 a.m at latest every day. These daily headlines are later combined together for our weekly Search Week in Review posts.”
As for what criteria Danny looks at: “Bottom line: the stories we include have to either be useful for our readers (advice, strategies, how-to content), or be something that we think our readers should know about (new products/tools/search features, acquisitions, industry news, etc.), or maybe just entertaining/humorous. We try to pick content from trusted writers/sites who have a proven track record or solid reputation and try to avoid the speculative stories.”
The influentials are giving us a nice insight in how they compile their posts. We can learn a lot from that. These answers by the influentials, combined with my own experience make that we can compile a list of things you need to keep in mind as a blogger if you want to get the attention of the influentials:
One thing which clearly stands out in the answers from the influentials is that you need to get into their RSS Readers. I myself have over a 1000 feeds but others may have less. But how to get into those feeds?
First of all you won’t make it with just one post. You’ll need to produce a series of good posts which will make the influential feel that he needs to come back to your site to see if there is new material around. Second you’ll need to “offer” him the RSS: make it easy to subscribe. Thirdly: optimize your feeds, make them easy accessible and easy to read on all devices (mobile, iPad and web). Especially new ways of finding content on devices like the iPad make it important to do this right. I myself find a lot of info using Pulse, Flipboard and Instapaper on the iPad, make sure your posts are easy readable in these tools.
One thing you really should not do is specifically aim for the link. Your story is the most important part of the link here. You will never get mentioned if your post is useless. Write good stories and the links will follow, not the other way around.
The wrap up posts may look the same in format, the people making them do not want to repeat themselves every day or every week. They are looking for something different. So write a review about a new tool instead of the tool everybody is already using or find a ‘golden angle’ on an existing or more discussed item. For example my post about Bing’s Streetside feature got a lot of attention.
As you can see from the remarks the influentials are making above, it is really important to stand out. Your post has to be “different”, but more importantly: it has to stand out in between these thousands of other posts. Which means your title has to catch the eye of the influential. It has to stand out. A few tips on how to make a title stand out in an RSS Reader:
Many stories get “carried” across the web because they are found by members of a forum. The influential might not be able to find you right away, somebody else at a forum might. So get on the forums, not to spam them with your links, but to join the discussion. And if you really have something to add, you can post your link in it, and people will pick it up. Getting into the discussions on Sphinn for example will get you in the ‘sight’ of the influentials.
Think about a niche within the niche. We are writing about search and social, but there are for example many sites who do wrap up posts about linkbuilding in specific, or e-mail-marketing. Write specifically about that topic and chances are you will be picked up.
Even though news is a good way of getting into the wrap up posts, you have to be careful not to over do it. The influentials tend to try and find the original source of a story. As Danny points out: “We try to get the original source, as generally most sites will reference the original site’s work, so it’s better to give the originator credit.“. So don’t go for the news stories everybody is already covering, go for the ones nobody is. Or even better: make news yourself.
One way that the influentials get the news is that they get tipped. Many sites even offer the option to give either feedback or give a tip (we have a special “tip us” page now too for example). That is a good way to get in touch with the site owners and let them know you have a good (related!) story. Off course if you have the e-mail address of the editor responsible for the posts, that is even better. But BE VERY CAREFUL with this. If you send in a “wrong” tip chances are you are out for good. You have to give a serious tip or otherwise they won’t trust you as a source the next time!
To “wrap things up”, getting into the wrap pup posts can be very profitable, but it is not something which is done very easily. The influentials, the editors responsible for these posts, all take their jobs very seriously. So if you want to get in there, you will have to take your job seriously too. Start of with quality and get noticed. Then both you and the editors will be happy. You will have your post mentioned, they will have another quality post to put into theirs.
Any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments!
Post originally published in February 2011