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Why Your Best Move Might Be to Promote Other Websites' Content Want a steady flow of high-value inbound links that your competitors won't be able to duplicate? Use this smart strategy.

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The following excerpt is from the Garrett French and Eric Ward's book Ultimate Guide to Link Building, 2nd Edition. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

When it comes to SEO, the "preciprocation" concept is simple: Promote the best content of others (especially including your link prospects) before they ask for it via links from your site and placed content, votes, newsletter mentions, tweets, or whatever platform or medium you have at your disposal. Good preciprocation targets include reporters, bloggers, industry experts who publish consistently, even respected and prolific forum posters. Look for active sites and individuals mentioned frequently in social media, as well as those who've established authority. Link out lavishly to deserving content, even from competitors, if appropriate. Use followed links. Expect nothing in return, though certainly do occasional outreach to let folks know that you appreciated and cited their work.

Preciprocation provides several advantages:

  • By continually watching for and promoting great industry content, you'll know what you should be aspiring to in your content creation.
  • Your audience will trust you as an expert curator of industry content. Though the content isn't yours, your "brand" will still pass along a bit as the referrer.
  • You keep tabs on what your competitors are doing in the content marketing and social media arena.
  • The experts creating the content you promote will, in some cases, reciprocate by promoting your content to their network.
  • Some experts may be relied on to link to you with anchor text best suited to your SEO goals.
  • The experts and other publishers you promote will be more open to interviews, surveys, and other highly linkable content collaborations.

The disadvantages of preciprocation are:

  • Not every market contains a layer of active, expert publishers, such as bloggers, who are the link prospects most likely to respond to this method.
  • It's a lot of work, requiring dedicated daily work of about an hour or so.
  • It takes a long time to get "rolling" to the point where you're genuinely impacting your chances of increasing links.
  • If you're pushy or expectant in your requests for promotion of your content, you'll come off as rude, even if you've been preciprocating for weeks or months.

Once you've begun warming up your link targets through preciprocation, you can start to formulate ideas for turning these contacts into links. We recommend that you do this primarily through content that, again, promotes your link targets while adding new information and value to your industry's thought space.

Here are some core concepts that illustrate how to develop your preciprocated relationships into content and links:

  • Good ol' content promotion. If you already have expert-grade content on your site and it hasn't gotten much industry attention, a simple mention to a few of your preciprocated contacts could result in links. Because the relationships are already warmed up, they're more likely to spend a minute considering your request!
  • Top 100 (blog posts, Twitter users, PDFs, podcasts, etc.) of 20XX. If you create content on your site that highlights the experts in your space that you've preciprocated, they're likely to help you promote it. Sometimes this will be through tweets, and sometimes through links.
  • Expert publisher group interview. Ask great questions of a large group of industry experts (including those competitors with whom you've developed rapport and respect), and you're sure to create content that gets others thinking and sharing. Plus, the experts themselves will benefit by promoting the content.
  • The "writing assignment." Create an interesting and engaging writing project, and ask your preciprocated experts to publish their assignment on their site—be sure to link to their assignment from the assignment announcement page, which is on your site. For example, Rae Hoffman publishes an annual "expert interview" on link building, which in turns helps her site attract links and publicity.
  • Promoting your customers. This old PR technique works well for link building. Source, share, and promote their stories and expertise, and you'll earn links from them and their networks.
  • Solicit expert content. Some experts will want to use your blog as a place to reach a new audience with content (and earn a new link or two). Consider opening your platform to content placement from others, and they're likely to help promote it for you.

Eric Ward founded the Web's first link-building and content publicity service in 1994, (then called NetPOST). He has developed content linking strategies for PBS, WarnerBros, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and Disney. Today, Eric publishes a weekly strategic linking newsletter called LinkMoses Private, and offers clients strategic linking consulting and training services. Garrett French is the founder of Citation Labs, a boutique agency that specializes in custom link-building tools and services to solve large-scale marketing problems. Ward and French are the co-authors of Ultimate Guide to Link Building, available from Entrepreneur Press.

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