A couple weeks ago, I was browsing Reddit on my lunch break and saw a post that caught my attention. It was the perfect example of that legendary “Great Content” that SEOs love to talk about, and it was going fully viral. Because no one had commented on the SEO/content marketing side of it, and because the post was only six hours old, I decided to whip up my fastest blog post to date. It took a little over an hour to write and post it through all of our regular channels, and then I was back to work on our clients’ sites (my calendar says I was working on Miguel Palma’s site, and who am I to argue.)
The next day, a pair of pingbacks arrived from two blogs I’ve never seen before. They were both on the funkier end of the spectrum, so I didn’t spend too much time looking at them. If I did, I may have noticed that they were both ripoffs of a Huffington Post article.
It wasn’t until another day or two went by that I noticed our blog was getting a little more traffic than usual, so I decided to take a look at our traffic sources. Lo and behold, we were getting a healthy bit of traffic from huffingtonpost.com. I ran the site through my personal favorite backlinks checking tool, Ahrefs, and found the link immediately.
The HuffPo post came a day after ours and linked back with the anchor text “covered in pins.” It’s not clear if Suzy Strutner saw my post and decided to turn it into a bigger interest piece, or if she was inspired by the original Reddit post and just found mine while doing some research, but the important part is that my “story” about Phil’s pin board was so niche that I literally had the only blog post on the subject, anywhere on the internet. And that’s how I got the link.
Big Whoop. How Does That Help Me?
If you’re still reading, you probably want to know how to get a link like this that you can call your own. While I’m no expert on the subject, I do have a few tips I can share.
1. Start acting like an expert
If you’ve been alive for long enough to learn how to tie your own shoes, there’s probably something you can teach me. Even if you mow lawns 60 hours a week, you can probably tell me something about mowing lawns that I would never have thought of. Try writing blog posts, or even just social media posts, about the kind of things that only you would notice. Even if it seems like no one else could possibly care, you’ll be surprised time and time again.
2. Respond quickly to new stories
If I had written the post on Phil’s Fish Market two weeks after the Reddit post, I would have never gotten that link. Today there is more of a market for brand new content than ever before, and the insatiable demand for new subjects to write about means that even minor news items can turn into a thousand different blog posts. The trick is to get in on the ground level so that other bloggers will find your post when doing their research.
3. Discover new content the moment it’s posted
If you want to be the first writer to offer a unique perspective on a story, you need to be one of the first people to see it. Set up a Reddit account and learn how to use Subreddits, learn to use an RSS reader, or make Twitter a part of your daily routine.
Can I Buy a Link from the Huffington Post?
Update June 2016:
Let’s start with this short answer: Hell No.
Lately we’ve been seeing an influx of unsolicited emails from people claiming that you could pay them to build links to your site from the Huffington Post. Read Tony Edward’s post on Search Engine Land if you need to learn why these jokesters should not pass go or collect your $500.
Leave a comment below or tweet me @joeadamg.