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We all want to earn the kind of high-quality links that will improve organic ranking and drive referral traffic so we can grow our business.

But that’s easier said than done.

In this article, we’ll break down three proven ways to earn higher rankings and more links.

These techniques are neither quick nor easy. While that may seem like a bad thing, it actually gives you an advantage.

Here’s why…

If it’s quick and easy, your competitors can easily replicate your efforts, putting you back on even ground.

You don’t want even ground – you want the high ground.

You want every competitive advantage you can find. And that means taking on the larger, more difficult tasks that most of your competitors won’t or can’t do.

I also want to point out that this doesn’t mean you ignore the low-hanging fruit.

You still need to leverage the quick and easy link building tactics because you know your competitors will be using them, too.

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But you’ll want to add the more complex tactics to your arsenal because these are the ones that will give you a powerful advantage.

Let’s get started.

1. Build a Brand People Are Passionate About

Every entrepreneur needs a brand, both as an individual and as a company.

But a brand is a lot more than just a pretty logo and a clever tagline.

A real brand encompasses everything from the superficial — your color pallet, logo, marketing materials, and other visual elements — all the way down to core principles, customer service, and company culture.

And when you can build a complete brand that spans from top to bottom like that, you will inevitably turn some people away because the things they hate about your company are the same things other people will be attracted by.

This is necessary to create a brand that people are passionate about.

It’s also something that scares most entrepreneurs. They are terrified at the idea of turning anyone away.

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But look at some companies with strong brands:

  • Spartan Race.
  • Apple.
  • IKEA.
  • Dollar Shave Club.
  • CrossFit.

What you’ll notice about these brands, in addition to their rabid cult-like following, is that people often freely link to their websites on their own.

That’s because they’re excited about the brand and even bring them into their “cult,” and they’re especially excited about being the person to do that. They feel like being associated with that brand says something about who they are as a person.

This all has an obvious positive impact on ranking and organic traffic, as well as referral traffic.

But having a brand that people are passionate about brings another advantage.

Real humans tend to search by brand name. That’s a positive ranking signal, boosting Google’s trust in your brand and domain in general. This leads to improved ranking across the board.

2. Create a (Useful) Free Tool

We’re all busy, so we’re all looking for ways to be more effective and more productive – especially when we can achieve that result for free.

That’s why useful, free tools can be so powerful in earning links and improving ranking.

You don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel. But at the same time, make sure you’re not creating something that already exists a thousand times over.

For example, I remember seeing a WordPress plugin named Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) a while back, which I always thought was a little crazy.

I mean, if there are so many plugins that all do the same exact thing, why bother creating another one?

On the other hand, you also need to make sure there is a big enough market to justify creating it in the first place.

Ideally, it should be difficult enough that some competitors will be reluctant to try creating their own.

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It’s also worth noting that while it should be free, you don’t necessarily need to create something from scratch. If you could offer a version of an existing SaaS product with limited features or a reduced number of transactions, some will find this useful.

Semrush is a perfect example of this strategy in use.

3. Do Something Truly Newsworthy

Contrary to what many entrepreneurs seem to think, simply existing is not a newsworthy situation.

If you want to be featured in the media, which leads to earning links and branded search traffic, you need to first have a story worth telling.

The thing is, you don’t get to determine if your story is worth telling.

The producers, editors, anchors, and journalists do.

And in order for them to want to tell your story, it needs to appeal to their audience.

That piece of knowledge should be the foundation of every pitch you send.

When you pitch your story from the perspective of their audience rather than your own perspective, you’ll see significantly better results from your PR efforts.

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Now I will throw out a caveat; many publications only link out using the nofollow attribute.

Don’t worry about that because despite what some SEO professionals believe, Google does not ignore nofollow links.

(I explained why in a recent article on the evolution of link building.)

More important than that is the fact that often, when a news outlet covers a story, other websites will follow suit. And many of them will link to your site, as well.

But no matter how awesome your story may be, you’ll almost certainly still have to pitch it to the right people at the right time in a way that makes it clear why their audience will care.

Unfortunately, a lot of people try to take shortcuts at this stage by indiscriminately pitching media contacts regardless of relevance.

I’ll give you a valuable piece of advice here – PR is not a numbers game. It’s a relationship game.

And if you treat people like commodities, not only will they ignore but they may blacklist you, as well.

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Some things that might make a newsworthy story could include:

  • Doing something that will impact a specific group.
  • Inventing something useful and/or interesting.
  • Achieving a significant and uncommon milestone.

I broke the entire process down in great detail in a previous article titled How to Earn Links by Doing Something Truly Newsworthy.

This is an especially powerful technique because, in addition to helping you to earn links, it also helps you earn more exposure and build a stronger brand.

As I said, these aren’t simple objectives.

But search is a highly competitive space and it takes exceptional effort to stand out from the crowd in the SERPs.

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