Tips & How-Tos

6 Tips to Easily Build Natural Links

Backlinks are one of the top eight ranking factors on Google, alongside content quality, mobile optimization, site speed, and a few others. 

Over the years, Google has gotten better at determining which backlinks are natural and which were paid for. Paid backlinks can do more harm than good, especially if you get placements on low-quality sites. 

Whether you’re building backlinks for your e-commerce site or are trying to attract local backlinks, natural links are the way to go. Here are six tips to make building natural links easy. 

1. Know Your Audience and the Kind of Content They Want

The first step is knowing what kind of content your audience is interested in. Writing content that your audience is curious about will make it more likely for other bloggers in your niche to link to you organically. 

Of course, you have to know your audience first. Use tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Audience Insights to learn more about your audience’s demographics and interests. 

Website analytical tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console allow you to learn which type of content gets the most engagement. Some metrics you can look at to gauge a topic’s popularity include: 

  • Click-through rate on Google
  • Amount of time spent on page
  • Number of visitors from the search engines

Don’t limit yourself to informational blog posts, though. Sometimes, the type of content your audience wants will take another form. 

For example, your audience might want infographics that break down different stats in your industry. People might want to use your infographic and reach out to you to ask if they can do so. A listicle-style article or a how-to guide might be what your audience is looking for. 

Similarly, publishing new research or case studies in your niche might help your audience find answers to pressing issues. 

Don’t overlook YouTube videos, either. You can embed them in your blog posts to make them more link-worthy. There are many types of YouTube videos that may attract natural backlinks: interviews with customers, tutorial videos, investigative journalism videos, and more. 

2. Find Link-Worthy Content and Make Something Better

Brian Dean of Backlinko popularized the idea of the “skyscraper technique.” It involves finding link-worthy content ranking on the top pages of Google and creating something better. 

Your goal should be to create an article that incorporates all the information spread throughout the various articles showing up on the first page of Google. Not only that, but you will add additional information not yet found in those articles. 

Finally, you will spice up your new article with infographics, eye-catching images, quotes, original research, embedded videos, links to sources, and more to create the most comprehensive resource on the internet. 

While the skyscraper technique works well for SEO, it is also extremely efficient for attracting organic backlinks. When someone wants to cite a source, they’ll naturally choose your article, which is packed with so much information that will help their readers. 

Besides, if you cite multiple stats in your article, people will only have to link to your one article as a source when citing those stats in their own articles instead of including multiple citations. 

There are two ways to go about doing your research for this technique. One is to simply use Google, review the top-ranking articles, and notice concepts and ideas they fail to mention.

Another way is to use a competitive research tool like SEMrush to run a backlink audit on your top competitors’ websites. That way, you can discover which of their articles are getting the most backlinks. 

You would then use those articles as inspiration for your skyscraper article. If people are linking to those articles, it’s because they think they offer value to their readers, so why not create articles that offer even more value? 

You can even steal your competitors’ backlinks after having created your skyscraper article by reaching out to the sites that linked to the now-inferior articles and suggesting that they link to you instead. Some people will be happy to do so, as it will benefit both them and their readers.

A golfer stands on a basket of golf balls

3. Don’t Forget About Images and Videos

Original images and videos are very effective at attracting backlinks. They make your articles more interesting and easier to read. 

Would you link to an article with no images or videos? Articles that contain only text are boring, hard to skim through, and hard to read. They will be less likely to attract backlinks, so include at least a few images in each blog post and a video if possible. 

Just how many images do you need? Neil Patel recommends using one image for every 150 words. In other words, if you have a 1,000-word article, you’ll want to include 6-7 images. 

Of course, every article is different. Some article types, like how-to guides, require more images than others. Sometimes, including too many images can be disorienting and make it harder for visitors to follow your flow. However, up to one image per 100-150 words is generally okay. 

Pro-tip: Upload your videos to YouTube and then embed them into your article. Uploading them directly to your site can cause your site to load slowly. Similarly, compress your images using Smush or TinyPNG before uploading them to reduce their impact on your page speed. 

4. Reach Out to Webmasters and Influencers

Just because you’re trying to get natural links, that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and hope for them to materialize by themselves. You can and should be proactive in your backlink-building campaign, reaching out to webmasters and influencers to get backlinks. 

You won’t get a response from all webmasters. In fact, depending on the backlink outreach strategy you are using, more webmasters may ignore you than not. However, you’ll still get a lot more backlinks than by simply waiting for them to come by themselves. As a result, you’ll get faster results, and your rankings will go up quicker. 

5. Provide Incredible Value Instead of Just Asking for Links

When reaching out to webmasters, it’s important to provide incredible value instead of just asking for links. Simply asking is sometimes enough, but most of the time, people are more likely to act when there is something in it for them. 

So, what can you offer webmasters? Here are the top backlink outreach strategies that are the most effective: 

  • Guest post outreach: You offer to write a guest post, for free, in exchange for a link back to your site in the article and/or bio. 
  • Testimonial link building: You offer to write a testimonial for one of the site’s products or services in exchange for a short bio and link. 
  • Infographic link building: You create an infographic and send it to webmasters, offering free usage if they credit you. 
  • Broken link building: You find broken links on other sites and inform the webmasters about them, suggesting one of your own links as a replacement. 

Guest post outreach is the most effective, as it offers the most value. At the same time, it is very time-consuming. You need to pitch article ideas and write articles once they are accepted. Typically, you’ll also need to conform to strict guidelines, such as a minimum word count, a limit on the number of outbound links in the article, and a certain writing style. 

Testimonial and infographic link building are very effective as well. You only need to create an infographic once to get multiple links from it. Testimonials are also a win-win for both of you, as they don’t require as much effort to create as a guest post. 

Broken link building used to be a novel idea, but it is no longer as effective as it once was. However, it’s still a valid strategy. 

6. Avoid Paying for Links

Finally, avoid paying for links. I know that it seems like a quick fix – an easy way to get backlinks without the effort required to get natural backlinks. However, it’s not worth it. 

According to Google’s guidelines, paying for links that pass PageRank is considered a link scheme. Link schemes refer to schemes that try to manipulate search engines by building unnatural links. 

By the way, it’s not only paying for links directly that’s considered a link scheme. Offering a free product or service in exchange for a link is also prohibited. The same applies to excessive link exchanges – reaching out to multiple webmasters and offering to link to them in exchange for links back. 

Paying for links could undermine your entire link-building campaign and cause you to receive a manual penalty from Google once it finds out about what you were doing. That could devastate your rankings, and it could be hard to recover from. 

Final Thoughts

Backlinks are critical for SEO. Specifically, natural backlinks will help show Google that your site is interesting and boost your rankings. Creating awesome content that your audience wants is an important step, but you should also have a backlink outreach strategy that offers value. 

Business & Tech

Why Public WiFi is Good for Business

Many businesses today run partially or entirely online. Even old-fashioned services such as mechanic shops and lawn service companies have a prominent online presence. So it’s easy to see why fast WiFi is a necessary part of business operations. But WiFi can actually benefit your business in the area of marketing in a surprising number of ways. 

Why Install Customer WiFi?

Wireless Fidelity, or more widely referred to as WiFi, is a technology that allows your PC, mobile, or laptop computer to connect to the internet via a radio wireless local area network. You do not need a physically wired or tethered connection to surf the web at high speed. With one router connected to the internet, it is possible to use several devices at once. This flexibility allows not only your entire staff to do business online but connects you to your customers as well. 

If you run a brick-and-mortar business like a clothing boutique or gift shop, offering free WiFi to your customers is seen as a “free bonus” for shopping in your store. Free WiFi access can keep people lingering in your store, or better yet, give them an incentive to stop by if they are in the area and need a stronger internet connection. Mechanics and doctors’ offices can benefit from making longer wait times more enjoyable.

Make Your Business a Truly Hot Spot!

Business owners dream of making their place the “hottest spot in town.” From restaurants to hair salons, it pays to be popular in your community. 

When it comes to internet connections, though, a hotspot refers to an accessible WiFi area, usually a public space like a cafe, airport, or hotel. Not all require logins, but some do and even require a fee to access. All you need for your hotspot is a built-in wireless transmitter, or if you’re using a laptop that doesn’t have one, then an adapter that plugs into the USB port. 

Offering a hotspot to patrons of cafes and restaurants has long been regarded to build repeat customers and followers. A cafe can request a review or Facebook check-in to use their hotspot, which produces visibility through social networking, too. 

Pay Close Attention to WiFi Security

Fake WiFi access points are sometimes referred to as “Evil Twins”. Similar to a phishing scam, the Evil Twin can eavesdrop on your wireless communication. When you offer customer WiFi access, a hacker can set up a hotspot that mimics this connection with the primary network name, tricking the average user into logging on to the Evil Twin and giving access to proprietary information. 

The best way to protect yourself from an Evil Twin is to use a VPN or at the very least only visit websites with HTTPS secure pages. A simple Google search for Evil Twin will yield numerous how-to-hack websites on the first page of results. This pervasiveness should tell you how easy it is to set up a fake WiFi and steal passwords and other vital data. 

When using any internet-connected device on public WiFi, using a VPN protects your private information. While you can’t install a VPN client on your customers’ devices, you can take steps to educate frequent customers on the benefits. You can also make a habit of periodically checking the way your network appears to new devices and investigating any suspicious Evil Twins that may arise. 


SEO for Startups

Search engine optimization is essential for anyone running a website. No matter what your goals are, appearing on the first page for relevant web search results is the best way to get qualified traffic to your site.

Entrepreneur published an article on the importance of SEO for startups. While the listicle is full of many great reasons, item number one caught my attention right away.

“1. SEO delivers customer behavior data to startups.”

For a new business, a strong web presence is critical. As your brand builds awareness, people will go online to research what you and your business are all about. While some might think that publishing a website and possibly claiming a Google My Business listing is enough, it isn’t.

Spending time to educate yourself on how related search trends, then using that information to build your website, gets you in front of the right people even faster. A good SEO strategy involves keyword research, explorations of real-life questions, and critical thinking about user intent. This information helps you determine site structure, but is useful elsewhere, as you try and assess your offline marketing plans.

Once people start visiting your website, unique data is available to you. By connecting your site to Google Analytics, you can see in real time where your customers are coming from and how they behave once they arrive.

The article points out some other key reasons why SEO is essential for a startup. A good content strategy will lead to more traffic, higher conversion, and can lead to a robust long-term customer base. Read more at


Microsoft Now Uses Bing Data for LinkedIn Targeting

LinkedIn, the business-driven social networking site, now uses search data from Bing for ad targeting. On the flip side, your LinkedIn activity is also used for interest-targeted ads when you are on Bing. According to Search Engine Land, this is the first time search data is being used for targeting on LinkedIn since the network was purchased by Microsoft nearly three years ago.

LinkedIn added the interest targeting feature to its ad platform in January of this year. Advertisers can target users with specific interests, based on the content they have engaged with, both through the social network and Bing searches. Currently, more than 200 topics are listed as options for ad targeting.

While you may not hear much about LinkedIn compared to mega-networks like Facebook and Twitter, it is certainly influential when it comes to engaging the professional workforce. Hootsuite reports that, on average, two new users join LinkedIn every second. That’s a bigger growth rate than Twitter. Data also shows that 50 percent of Americans with college degrees have LinkedIn accounts, indicated it is one of the best ways to reach an educated demographic.

While LinkedIn is well known as a great recruitment and job search tool, it is also an excellent place to find local and national business news. As a marketer, I always encourage sharing press releases on your company profile page for two specific reasons. First, working professionals are more likely to engage with brand-related news on LinkedIn because they are already in “business mode.” On Facebook, users are often there to look at family photos or engage with recreational content. Second, posting corporate updates on LinkedIn makes it easier for job candidates, business journalists, and partner companies to see a curated list of what you’ve accomplished.


Technology and Education

In the midst of the teacher walkout here in Oklahoma this week, the crossroads of technology and education have been on my mind. It’s been two decades since I graduated high school, and I was unaware that so many of our schools were so behind in terms of staying up to date with technology. For me, classrooms were the first place I encountered all sorts of digital tools, from AutoCAD to Photoshop to Webmail.

On the list of teacher pay and education funding in America, Oklahoma ranks among the lowest of the 50 states. Several weeks ago, when news began to spread that teachers from across the state were planning a school walkout to demand funding increases, the state Legislature passed a bill increasing taxes and giving teachers a raise of about $6000 per year. However, many educators said that any acceptable package must include additional funding for classroom resources and support. So the walkout moved forward as planned.

Jennifer Jarnagan-Riem, a math teacher from Glenpool, OK, said the raises were a good start:

“It was a stepping stone. And now we’re ready for step two. We need proper funding, we need adequate funding and we need a long-term plan. It’s not something that’s just going to happen in a day.”

On Google’s blog, The Keyword, Lilyn Hester, Head of External Affairs for the Southeast United States, wrote about an initiative the company is developing that serves as a perfect example of the need for technology resources in public education. Hester says:

“I meet students who live in remote or rural areas and endure long bus rides to and from school—in some places up to 90 minutes each way. In these areas, like so many others across the country, a lot of students don’t have access to connectivity or devices at home, but they often have schoolwork that requires it… we live during a time where even astronauts can have Wi-Fi on their space stations. Why couldn’t our students have access to it on their bus rides home?”

So a volunteer team at Google helped install Wi-Fi on 11 buses throughout a small school district in Caldwell County, North Carolina. To help increase the efficacy of the program, they partnered with local leaders to put educators on each bus, providing support to students and helping with individual assignments.

The results were “immediate,” according to Hester’s article.

“…almost too immediate for some bus drivers who were shocked (and a little confused) when their commutes became so quiet. Students were engaged. They were learning. And after a few months, there were more real results: School officials saw students do better in school.”

Because of the success, Google is expanding their Rolling Study Halls program to a new area in Colorado, with more than a dozen additional districts in the works.

It’s well known that many public school teachers spend money from their own paychecks to purchase necessary supplies for their classrooms, but outfitting school buses with Wi-Fi would be outside the question, even in affluent areas. Seeing private companies take the lead on incorporating tech into education is a great way to supplement this gap, but even Google couldn’t roll out partnerships like this for every district in the entire country.

As of today, the teachers of Oklahoma continue to rally at the state capitol.

No matter how the funding situation turns out, it’s become clear to me that if tomorrow’s business leaders are going to get a good education, technology, and adept training on how to use it, will be imperative.


The Best Obtainable Version of the Answer

Recently, Oklahoma Humanities hosted an evening of commentary with Carl Bernstein, discussing truth in media and how it affects us as a democracy. Bernstein is well-known as one of the reporters assigned to cover the Watergate break-in at The Washington Post. His deep investigative reporting, along with his colleague Bob Woodward, helped uncover the now well-known illegal activities by the Nixon administration, which ultimately led to the President’s resignation in 1974. The forum also included a presentation from Ted Streuli, Editor and Associate Publisher of The Journal Record, who discussed different forms of “fake news,” and how each form affects trustworthiness of publications in a different way. The major emphasis of Bernstein’s remarks was a push for journalists to always strive for “the best obtainable version of the truth.” The event was in conjunction with the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative, which is administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. This series of programs seeks to deepen public knowledge of the connections between “democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry.”

Although far from identical, content creation for brands is like journalism in many ways. Blog articles, FAQ pages, and press releases are all meant to give information to the public, with the added goal of familiarizing consumers with a company’s product. Like news journalism, brand content can be both factual and misleading, depending on the integrity of the company at its source. While it’s important for brand content to be true, the process of creating these resources does not require investigative deep-dives. Very often, the facts about a product or service are already well known by the marketing team. But if content distributed by a company is going to be the most effective, it must have a similar goal to that of good journalism: the best obtainable version of the answer. 

All marketing content should provide the answer to a question being raised by new or existing customers. These questions can range from how to use a product, to why it is better than a competitor’s, to where it can be most easily purchased. In all of these areas, the users who encounter the information will be more engaged if it gives them the best obtainable version of the answer. Why would they engage with your blog article if another brand is giving them something better? It is the responsibility of every business to offer honest, complete answers to any questions consumers are raising about their category of product or service. 

But answers can be complex. As Mr. Bernstein stated during the forum, the truth isn’t always a simple string of facts. Context is always needed to provide the reader with a full picture. Finding a balance of concise, to-the-point information, and fully fleshed-out context is difficult. That’s why digital content is so effective, allowing specific pieces of information to be linked to related topics, letting the user decide how much information they want to consume. Care should be taken that this network of brand information is user-friendly and easy to navigate. If a business launches a new product campaign, with multi-channel pieces of content, consumers must also be given a clear path to connecting all of the information. 

Mr. Bernstein also spoke about the need for institutional commitment to the truth in journalism. The same goes for brand content, where mixed messages create confusion for potential customers, and in turn, mistrust. Nothing will send a prospective client running for the hills faster than marketing information that is contradictory or seems fake. So it is highly important that brand messages be strictly curated throughout the company, from the executive level, all the way through customer service. If the CEO makes a statement in the newspaper that is at odds with an online video, users in the marketplace will notice and may turn away from your products toward those of a competitor in a split second, without taking any additional time to contact the company for clarification. If your content strategy involves a dedication to the best obtainable version of the answers, consistency won’t be a problem. 

Whether a company is working on a blueprint to rebrand, or a campaign to kick off the next quarter, answering the questions of potential new and repeat customers should be the number one goal of any content created. Do the materials show the product in a clear way? How do the words and images create real-life scenarios for customers? Where do individual marketing pieces disagree or contradict, and how can that be resolved? Asking these questions, and finding the best obtainable version of the answer, will lead to higher levels of engagement from digital consumers, and an increase in brand trust.