At Brighton, I introduced the idea of using the E.A.T. framework in Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines as a link building strategy. It is the idea that where one of the pillars of Expertise, Authority or Trust is missing from a web page, it can be a real “bargaining chip” for getting a link if you can fulfil the missing pillar.
In this post, we’ll look at how to use your expertise for link building by helping a web page (or site) demonstrate more “Expertise”.
Expertise: The Easiest “E.A.T” for Link Building?
Providing expertise is easier than adding authority or trust to a web page in many ways. Most of us can become “Experts” in something. Hopefully, that something is also what we do as a day job! For many of us, expertise comes with accreditation… a degree for example. Sometimes just the company you work for is enough to get you through the door… but the company you work for maybe more about authority than expertise. Being an expert does not imbue “Trust” or “Authority”. We will cover using these for link building in future posts.
Expertise is also something that many sites crave in their content. So many, now, have employed nameless content writers to write bland and now often machine-generated copy, that the sites that actually DO seek out experts will have content that is light years ahead. If you are an expert in a subject, you do need to demonstrate that expertise in public, though. Your personal brand will be very helpful in your efforts to be asked to contribute to articles on third party sites.
Task 1: Update your Social Media Profiles
If you are looking to provide expert content to another site, then the very first thing a candidate site owner will do is look at you on Twitter or LinkedIn. You do not have to fully engage with EVERY social network. My Instagram sucks and my TikTok is a joke. But I do maintain my Twitter and LinkedIn Profiles. Majestic does a pretty good job of identifying an expert from an also-ran.
Just using the Majestic Chrome plugin, on my LinkedIn profile tells anyone that I am NOT an expert in (say) accountancy or music. But I can be called upon to say something about SEO. Other notable sites in the field have cited me in the field of Internet Marketing.
There is a secondary benefit of getting your social profiles right. These profiles contain links to your own website. Websites may link to your profile when you offer your expertise to them. Even if they do not link to your main site, your social profiles do. This means the better you become as a notable industry expert, the better your company becomes (even if they are no-followed).
Majestic has even stronger tools for looking at expertise on Twitter, with its Social Monitoring offering. But we will delve into that more when we look at the “Authority” and possible “trust” pillars.
Task 2: Demonstrate your Expertise. Write something!
You will not have a decent LinkedIn or Twitter profile if you have nothing of substance to talk about. Before you can add expert commentary to other websites, you first need to demonstrate that you have that expertise. I am a believer in saying that learning takes a lifetime, so I have been trying to say interesting things about SEO since 1999! But every year I have to reinvent myself because much younger and often more interesting people come onto the scene and prove their worth! This is why we call the Majestic Podcast “Old Guard vs New Blood”. This blend of old ideas and new is vital to any industry, I would imagine, but certainly – you do not need to be “Old Guard” to get noticed. You need one or two good new ideas and you need to explain them eloquently.
Want some gold standard examples? How about Greta Thunberg (born 2003) for climate change, or her nemesis, Naomi Seibt (born in 2000) who is a climate change denier. Or take Malala Yousafzai (aged 24, with a Nobel Peace Prize). But examples of expertise do not need to be quite so profound. I have a friend who is an expert in concrete. Nobody understands the importance of the right type of sand and cement mix quite like him… if you want to talk about building skyscrapers, he’s your man for choosing the right concrete! Or the chartered accountant “Richard Murphy” wrote a book called “The Joy of Tax”. Now that shows rare expertise!
The point is that you do need to demonstrate that you have something to say. That can be a few solid articles on your own corporate blog or a presentation of SlideShare or even a YouTube channel. A little, targeted, social media pimping goes a long way. But try not to get too far off your topic of expertise. Doing so (as I find to my cost all too often) can dilute how people see you and worse, you are more likely to say something on social media that you will regret.
Task 3: Selecting the right people to approach
Now you can demonstrate that you ARE an expert in whatever you want to build links for, you should find the right people to reach out to. In a perfect world, these people will reach out to YOU. So you need to make yourself open to offers. Here are some ideas:
Add a slide in your talks
If you talk in public, then there is a big possibility that someone in your audience could get a leg up by building a link to your expertise on THEIR website. After all, they are watching you talk about your topic of expertise already, right? So most presentations have an “About me” slide. Why not turn that into to “How can I help you” slide? Let the listeners know that you are open to providing expert commentary on their corporate blog, as long as it is on topic. You can do something similar if YouTube is your thing. Everyone on YouTube asks people to subscribe, but maybe a better call to action for them would be to reach out and ask you for a comment that they can add to an article they are writing? ASK!
Help a Reporter (also known as HARO) is a popular place for link builders to hang out. Journalists are great at finding and writing a good story, but their stories are rarely in fields in which they are experts. They absolutely CRAVE that missing pillar of expertise, if their article is to be taken seriously. That is where they turn to HARO for help. You put your credentials up and with luck, they will come to you. However – you should know that these journalists do tend to get bombarded with offers of help when they use this channel. Only respond when the request is a direct hit, or find other ways to get to these journalists… which comes to the next tactic…
Retweet the right people
Some journalists LOVE to write pieces where experts do all the hard work for them. “We asked 10 experts in x to give their opinion about y.” This makes for a great link opportunity. The writer needs to demonstrate expertise in a subject they cannot instantly be an expert in. Who are they going to ask? Well, I would ask the people I knew would be likely to retweet the article, just because they were in it. This might sound narcissistic, but link building through your expertise IS narcissistic! Be in their face and make it easy for them to ask you. It is not as hard as you think to find authors willing to bring in experts i=on just about any subject. Let’s go back to concrete:
Offer your YouTube as an Embed
In my presentation on how to E.A.T. Links, I have a GIF of a man trimming a Christmas Tress with two machetes. He’s GOOD! In many ways, adding a short “How-to” video to someone’s content is immediately more appealing to a web owner (and less threatening) than asking them to add text. Of course, if they embed your video, you should also ask them to “cite” your website. (Don’t mention the word “link” if you can help it).
Join select Private Groups
I have never found “outreach emails” to be very effective when it comes to Link Building. They come across as insincere and one-sided. It is hard to demonstrate that you will improve the page quality score by adding your expertise when you are cold calling. However, engaging in closed groups can be extremely powerful.
Facebook and WhatsApp stand out, for me. WhatsApp groups tend to pop up out of conferences. Keep an eye out and stay engaged. Then when you see people promoting their own content, see if you have material to help them and enhance their content.
You can also, in many of these groups, openly state your expertise (or demonstrate it by helping people) and ask whether you can help give credibility to any content on people’s sites. The way in which you ask needs to be careful – but you are in a private group, so hopefully, your blatant request to put content on someone else’s website won’t be in the public domain!
Expertise and Link Building: Wrapping it all up
Being an expert gives you a reason to get links, specifically on pages which may be very good, but lack an “Expert” quote or point of view. To start to exploit this as a link building opportunity, you first need to demonstrate your expertise online, through your own blog posts and social media profiles.
When trying to find suitable places to add your expertise, try to come up with more novel approaches than cold emails. With a little ingenuity, you can create much more engaging approaches.
And don’t forget, you can take a look at how you can use E.A.T as a Link Building strategy from my recent talk at Brighton.