The search engines have been publishing their “Top Searches” lists for 2009, so far I’ve collected lists from   Bing Yahoo!, and Google. Other sites posting “top” searches are  ESPNSnopes, and my favorite, Yahoo’s Top Video’s (warning: time killer!). I  set my alerts to catch these lists because they spark ideas for link bait and content development we can use to attract links.

All of the lists are valuable but IMO, the best list comes from Ask.com. Why? Because they list the top questions people used as search queries on  Ask.com. The list is divided  by category and includes the top ten questions asked. Here’s an example of one of the categories:

Top Questions Asked About Pets

This kind of information is priceless when it comes to SEO and link building for a couple of reasons:

  • When we know what people are looking for or what questions they have, we can create content to satisfy the query.
  • Once we have the content people are looking for, we can promote the content and attract links.
  • We know what sites Ask.com considers an authority on a subject based on the results they’ve returned in response to the question. We can link to these sites in the content we create to boost our credibility, and work to get links from these authorities.

The list helps us determine what to write about, gives us credible sources to cite – which in turn, boosts our authority and provides authority sites to use in our competitive research. See what I mean about being priceless? But knowing what to write about and whom to cite is only half the battle, we still need to promote the content so people find and link to it. Once again, Ask.com steps up and gives us some insight into how to do this.

Promoting the story

I’m not a fan of creating unique content and sending it away from a site, I prefer to promote it and the website together. I recommend launching a release to the media annoucing the new content and then following up with a general press release.

Which is exactly what Ask.com did here. In turn, that release was  picked up here, and here, and here, and here, and…well – you get the point. Because the release contained informative and newsworthy content, it was repeatedly picked up by news sites and social media outlets. So while great content is still  great, it needs to be promoted so everyone can find it, even if you’re a search engine.

Set your alerts to pick up on phrases like “Top searches 2009″ or “Top stories 2009″ and look for articles you can use to create killer content for your site. Compare 2009 results with years past for a fresh approach using current news. Promote all your content to your customer base, through social media and in press releases, you’ll build brand credibility and links by doing so.

Before I go and since this is my last post for 2009,  a personal word:

This has been  an interesting year for me both personally and professionally,  I moved (not happily) from a town of 6000 to an area of six million, had a scary health issue and turned 51. You might think being 50 is a bigger deal than 51 but the reality of being a half century old hit me on the 51st birthday. Age is only a good thing when it comes to links and antiques.

Through all the craziness a handful of people  helped me “stay sane” and for that, I am grateful. Thank you Danny, Elisabeth, Michelle and Chris Sherman for your support during my move and for putting up with my crankiness during SMX. Thank you Julie for covering for me and the ear you lend. And many thanks and cyberhugs to my circle of friends in the SEO community for just being there; you all are the best.

From all of us at Alliance-Link and the Mastaler household, I wish you and yours a very Happy Holiday. See you in 2010.  :)

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Week Column

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About The Author: of LinkSpiel.com and Alliance-Link is based in Fairfax Station Virginia and offers link marketing consultations and content partner services.

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  • Julie Joyce

    Even before I read the thanks part (and you’re welcome, and thank YOU) I was once again struck by how idea-provoking your posts ALWAYS are. I never read one without taking away something that I want to try.

  • http://www.ericward.com Eric Ward

    So I tried this tactic by asking ASK.com the question

    “Will answering a popular question help me build links?”

    Your post here should rank #1, but it doesn’t… Just kiddin Deb! This is really great advice. This tactic has worked for me and many clients as well, and here’s a great vertical real life example. I’m asked repeatedly during consults “are reciprocal links viable?” While I personally believe that 90% of the time the answer is no they are not, there are instances where they are absolutely helpful, if not vital.

    So I wrote a blog post titled “Why Reciprocal Links Will Always Be Viable” just so that I could get those thee words in the title tag, and copy. That’s all I did. Didn’t tell anyone, didn’t announce it. I might have tweeted it, but that’s it. This blog post wasn’t the exact question verbatim, but I wanted to avoid too perfect a match because there are times and topics where I feel a perfect match can be a negative algo signal. It was a test similar to what you suggest here.

    It worked. The blog post I wrote now ranks #1 out of 50,000+ for the query “are reciprocal links viable?”

    Have a look

    http://bit.ly/4EgaVu

    Now stop giving away all our “secrets” :)

    I wish you a great 2010!

  • http://www.ericward.com Eric Ward

    BTW, change the search to “can Top Searches Attract Top Links”, and your column does in fact rank #1, and that’s out of 69 million. It’s amazing what existing link credibility (SEL and you) combined with on site elements can do. Thanks again for your great content!

 

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