Want to Optimize Content? Don't Forget Your Links!

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This is the second post in a series on how to optimize content for search engines if you’re new to SEO. You can check out the first post, “How to Optimize Content When You Don’t Know Jack About SEO,” by clicking here.

optimize content

Think once you’ve found and strategically used a keyword that you’re done with your quest to optimize content? Think again. Ranking well in search engines is about more than just that. Sites like Google also factor in how much your content is shared and thus how many backlinks, pingbacks, and trackbacks it gets. Simply put, Google is rating your content based on how popular it is.

Inbound Links Are Your Friend

So, long story short, you want as many inbound links to your content as possible. One way to get them is to promote your content far and wide. That means not just posting your content to your own site, but also to high-traffic sites like SlideShare (for visual content such as presentations and eBooks) and Scribd (for text-based content such as white papers), as well as sharing it via Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and all of your other favorite social media channels. Importantly, you’ll also want to make it easy for others to share your content by embedding social sharing tools into your website. Every time you do any of this, you’ve got an opportunity to get another inbound link back to your content.

Beyond sharing your content, another thing you can do is devote some time to active link building through comments. The process is pretty simple. Start by finding places where people are discussing whatever topic you’ve written about. That might include Q&A sites like Quora or Yahoo! Answers, or your favorite blog or news site. A simple Google search will point you in the right direction and, as long as the site allows you to leave comments, you’re good to go.

Let’s say I were looking for a place build links for this post. I might start with SEOmoz’s blog, which is on topic and gets much more traffic than my own site. Looking through the site’s posts, I would try to find the one that’s most relevant to what I’ve written. Then, I would simply leave a comment about the post with a link back to my content using some basic HTML. When doing so, make sure you take the time to read the post so that you can leave a smart, contextually appropriate comment. After all, you want to put your best foot forward — your name will be attached to the comment! Plus, some comments are moderated, and comments that are off topic or clearly just promoting your own content often don’t get published.

Here’s an example of a potential comment I could write for a post on the SEOmoz blog that would also tie back to my content:

You’ve made a great point about the role of SEO in social media, and one that’s often overlooked.  Another tip to bear in mind if you’re trying to optimize content is link building. It takes some time and effort, but it can really pay off.

You can often embed your link using the following HTML: Insert text you want to display. In cases where that does not work (depending on the website, it might not), you can simply insert the URL directly. Regardless, be sure that your using your keyword (in my case “optimize content”) in the comment / link.

While link building is a time-consuming process, it’s one that will pay off over time. For anyone new to SEO, it’s a tactic to optimize content that’s worth experimenting with.

Don’t believe me? Help me share this blog post and let’s see if we can get it to be on the first page of Google results for the keyword “optimize content.”