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This is the second post of our weekly column – link building technique 2: go where the attention is

Bloggers in most cases do not break news. Unless your plane has crashed and you have survived to make the first photo of the aftermath you won’t have the opportunity to be the first person to report something very often. The few big press agencies in most cases decide what’s “news”: Reuters, AP or DPA.

Some stuff that gets reported is actually not really news at all, the latest Apple product launch for example or  Lady Gaga’s new hair cut. Nonetheless large numbers of people follow these news. In many cases these non-news are actually much more popular than the news that really matter.

Bloggers can’t report the big news first hand in most cases but they can ride the wave of current news like surfers.

People direct their attention towards what they perceive to be important based on it being widely reported. So in case everybody reports the new “revolutionary” Apple product is out it must be truly outstanding.

News outlets like newspapers, TV stations and other old media are quite limited on the Web. They can’t do what you can do as a small time blogger. There are many ways to ride the wave of current news. This technique is not one dimensional.

  1. You can collect the news for an overview or digest
  2. You can analyze the news to find out how much truth is in it
  3. You can find out the pros and cons of something that has been reported
  4. You can point out the aspects that have been underreported in a story
  5. You can denounce the new development and explain why
  6. You can connect the new event to similar past events and contextualize it

There are even more ways to use this technique. In order to get links from other people who already are looking for the news you need to add something. Just repeating the news as if you are the original source does not make sense. People won’t link to you but to CNN, NYT or the BBC. You may be lucky to get a “via” link but these days most links are likes or tweets where the via is dropped altogether.

You can’t simply add the obvious either. A famine in Africa is evidently horrible so telling the world your opinion how desolate it is won’t be of any use to anybody. Also exclaiming why the latest Apple product is “revolutionary and magic” is nothing more than repeating the latest ad. You have to add something that not everybody else is already assuming and it has to be of value for the people who already focus on the news item.

Sometimes it makes sense to disagree with everybody else.

When everybody is hailing something new as the next big thing I get annoyed anyways. Everything has pros and cons and thus when everyone is trying to tell me that the latest Apple product is revolutionary I will point out that it isn’t. Most Apple products just “reinvent” what we already have and present it as something completely new. That’s simply not true. It was that way with the iPhone and the iPad.

In case you are someone who is opportunistic and prefers to agree with everybody you can compile a list of people agreeing on an issue so that others don’t have to browse the Internet for hours. When a new social media hype starts and Robert Scoble tells everybody to join in and follow him I’m not one of the sheep anymore and join in the chorus. I will instead search for similar opinions and make a list of people who support a new site like I did with Google+.

Even better is a list with resources for using the new popular site.

People on the Web love tools for everything and in case a new service is out they search for services that automate some functions. They need shortcuts for the use cases they know from elsewhere and some tricks to get things done faster. Compiling such a list is a surefire way to get links from these people. Unless of course the hype is completely made up. I remember my resources lists on Google Buzz and Quora, both got barely any mentions and links because people are not as stupid to swallow each and every hype.

Lists still work quite well and when an established service or software gets relaunched the chance of getting some attention and inbound links can be the highest.

Everybody is using Google Analytics but only a few people have the time to use all its features. Also some of them are quite complex and not easy to find in the first place. When Google launched the new version of Google Analytics recently, V5, many people were overwhelmed by the interface changes. Thus lists that showed what’s changed and the whereabouts of old features in the new UI were very useful and I bookmarked and shared them.

You must add something that matters for the audience who is already interested in the subject to ride the wave.

Otherwise you will drown in it. Everybody else and their aunt will publish the same “news” at the same time so unless you can differentiate yourself from the others there is no real chance of getting a considerable amount of links. Nobody will notice you.

The best way to give the audience what it wants is to do something the old media can’t do. They can’t link out to their competition for instance. So the CNN site will not link out to the BBC and Al Jazeera because they cover the same story. Drudge Report and you can do it though. Drudge is a one man one page website that has until recently even outranked Google News in their regular results for [news]. Drudge has been the best news overview for a decade.

Moreover you can rant on your blog, be subjective and even outrageous.

News organizations who at least attempt to appear as objective (while they aren’t) can not. Also you can be wrong and admit it later without losing your job. That’s blogging.

In case you have more than one writer on your blog and you have unique numbers in your URLs you can apply to be included in Google News results. Then it’s even easier to ride the current news wave as you get displayed among the premiere news sources.

Otherwise just monitor the news for events that are related to your blog and when the wave starts to form make sure to be one of the first to jump on it. I’m not the only person to try it so you have to be quick. Reacting to yesterday’s news won’t result in new links either. Even Google Alerts may suffice for a start.

* CC image by Hani Amir