In the early days of the web people linked to the content they liked. And if it was considered “great content” then a certain page might attract a lot of links. At that time, a larger percentage of the actual Internet population were webmasters or Web marketers.
But over time, more and more people came online and there is a much smaller percentage of people actually on the Web who are webmasters and who will link to you. There are a greater number of people who might link to you, but the percentage of people with link potential vs. people actually on the Web is smaller. Therefore, your pool of link partners appears smaller. That makes it more difficult to find those link partners.
But you can find them. The question is, How?
Rand Fishkin argues it’s no longer driven by producing “great content”. I think what he really means is producing great content isn’t enough any more. You’ve got to do more than that. And that something is to offer an incentive.
Here is a great video in which Rand Fishkin explains this further:
This borders on link buying, but the example that Rand gives in his video is of Yelp offering small business owners a reason for linking to their profile – “because people are over here saying nice things about you.” That’s an incentive. And it works. In order for your links to gain traction – that is, increase in number over time – you’ve got to give different segments of your audience a reason for linking to you. What is the reason? Why are people linking to you? Why would they link to you? If you can nail that one then you can incentivize your link building efforts, giving webmasters a reason to link to you and therefore attracting more links. Are you doing that?