6 Thoughts on Expert-Engagement Surveys for Link Building

I'm working on outlining different types of content-based link building. I'm especially interested in engaging the experts and influencers in a given keyword space. I've pounded the group interview drum quite a bit, and I've been seeing some fantastic examples lately.

There's more than just group interviews for expert engagement though, and a recent survey of 246 fiction authors who have sold at least one novel really got me thinking about a different approach to massively capturing thought leadership - with the intent of building links and ongoing linkable content - in a given space.

Here's what's working well in this given survey:

1) The information directly appeals to the massive numbers of unpublished fiction writers. This audience will intensely want to know what lead up to a published author's first book publication. I think the 93 comments are a reasonable expression of the importance of this particular survey.

2) Each question gets its own section, and its own guidance or insight for unpublished writers. Extending this thought - potentially build your questions in a survey around content titles (or even common how-to topics in a space).

3) They're giving away the survey data. This survey looks more like a public service, labor of love sort of thing than a commercial venture. However, I think clever link builders could definitely figure out a way to leverage massive, expert-content data sets into links. This fellow, for example, ran a bit further and in a different direction with the data.

4) The survey conductor genuinely sought to provide value to other potential-competitors in his market. While the survey creator had no intentions to build links, he did, and some of them come from competing authors in his market. While I don't think it's typical for authors to view each other as competitors, they are.

5) 276 inbound links and counting... Some are from very well known and influential publishers.

6) With a few tweaks, this survey method could be turned into almost a year's worth of daily interviews with expert authors... If there had been just a few standard, interesting questions for each respondent he could have had, if he'd wanted (and clearly didn't want) a steady flow of solo interviews. Each of these would link to the original survey itself as well as the author's site. Each of these interviews could be potentially promoted to the author's fans, who are likely to take interest and link.

I know industry surveys are common. I almost always participate when people ask me to, as I'm always curious about what other respondents have to say. Moving forward I will be looking for ways to design surveys so that a great deal of industry expertise is acquired at one fell swoop, and then both a single (and extremely linkable) piece of survey-result content can be published, along with a steady drip of solo interviews, especially with careful question design!

More Thinking and Some Effective Survey Execution
Customer Surveys: A Powerful Link Building Tool
Search Engine Ranking Factors
Survey Results: The Most Annoying Part of Search Marketing

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