I like to email people and ask them for a link. My niche is quite dry, competitive, and people don't naturally link. It's not a tasty subject. So I have to give them reasons to link to me. Sometimes that reason is good content. Sometimes it's something else.
Here's some of the specific things I've done or am working on so that I have a good reason for you to link to me when I send you a link request email.
1) I dug up some historical content in my industry, compiled and published it. It's pretty cool stuff, things were different many years ago. You want .edu's? How about if I suggest to a prof that visitors to his .edu (or .gov, or whatever) page might be looking for historical research material, that he can help those visitors access that material online, for free? Maybe I'm a real estate agent (I'm not) and I gather historical pictures of the area I work in, or old maps, or something like that.
2) I'm working on something that compares today with a long time ago. Like say I'm a real estate agent again (again, I'm not). I could compare what my house might be worth today with what it was worth 100 years ago. People find that cool. I can get links from consumer type sites with this. Maybe I can take a stab at social media sites with a story that's 'cool'.
3) Bloggers in my niche are suspicious. They don't like link requests. they've seen it all. I can't just give them a link request email 'cause I have good content. The top bloggers here don't care about good content, they're already publishing great content and getting recognized nationally for it. So that's out. So instead, I developed a relationship with them.this didn't happen overnight - I've been at it for a year.
I knew the bloggers couldn't find decent high paying ads. For bloggers of this quality, adwords doesn't cut it. So I built an ad network, basically a mini, niche ad agency. Only the top quality, in my niche bloggers were invited. No strings were attached to their participation - they could come or go as they please. Then I went after high quality advertisers in my niche - and I had something of value to them. Where else can they get advertising in one place across many grassroots blogs, 100% in their niche? And no, that kind of targetted traffic doesn't come 'cheap'. And I made sure that the rev share to the bloggers is very very sweet. I make some money, but I don't take anywhere near the cut one might expect - so the bloggers get a high percentage of an already very high payout.
Now the ad network looks like 'top bloggers in my niche', or more likely 'top bloggers in my niche I want a link from,but that no one can get a link from'.
It's been some work, but the ads are now getting started. So I'm in touch with all these bloggers routinely, and they're reading my emails not marking it as spam. And I'm going to start sending these bloggers money - decent payouts - very soon.
Now what do I have? An industry where bloggers don't link to people like me. I'm paying the top bloggers money every month. Do people like it when you send them money? I believe they do. So now what happens the next time they blog on my subject? Who's their favorite authority on the subject?
In fact, I've now got these top quality but very suspicious bloggers calling *me* to get onboard.
So in this case I couldn't answer the reason why they would link to me just with my good content. I had to develop a relationship built on trust and cash. then they'll consider linking to me.
That's two examples of using generic good content to get links - people will link to good content if you ask. And one example of the reverse, answering on an individual basis why someone would link to me then going out and creating whatever it takes to get them to link to me.