There are lots of strategies for building backlinks to your site and let’s face it, they’re all hard (except for the ones that are ‘banned’)– linkbait, competitor backlink mining + begging, crazy n-way reciprocal linking, paid links, content syndication, etc.
But there’s a little-known strategy many user-generated content sites could take advantage of: creating reports for reporters. The goal is to create information tools that help reporters get data from your site and make it really easy for them to cite you and link to you (without ever having to call you).
In a way, it’s like the old PR strategy of listing yourself as an expert on Profnet, and then hoping that when a reporter needs a quote, they’ll call you. More modern examples include Google Trends and Google Zeitgeist. Trulia, Zillow, and Hotpads all offer heatmaps. And at my old site, ApartmentRatings.com, we created average apartment rental pricing charts by MSA.
The benefits of this approach are:
- your can get cited and linked even if a reporter doesn’t have time to interview you,
- you can exert some control over the content, making it necessary for the reporter to link back to it,
- this tactic tends to generate increasing links over time (which is sort of the opposite of how a linkbaiting campaign works)
- and of course there’s the brand benefit of being seen as a go-to source and leader in your industry.
What should you build? Charts, tables, statistics, snapshots, trends… something interesting, based on the largest sample set you can muster, and if possible, geographically-segmented (since local reporters are more interested in trends in their city and/or state). Obviously your opportunities here will depend a lot on your website’s actual data, legal restrictions, your creativity, and your dev resrouces, but here are a few ideas:
- What are your users searching for? Offer reports showing search trends.
- Collecting leads? Offer reports showing buyer trends.
- Aggregating data from multiple sources? Offer a report averaging the data and highlighting trends.
Once you set up reports, your data should automatically update over time. And of course, you should think about it from the perspective of a reporter- is your information quotable, do your graphs look nice enough to reprint, are the trends easy to understand, is it clear how the data was gathered and how many data points are represented, do you provide access to the underlying data so the reporter can give the data to their art department, can they embed your charts on another site (and if so, is your HTML setup to properly give you a text link back), if a reporter has a question is there an email or phone number readily available.