13 Unconventional Link Building Strategies

SMS Text

Need to build links to your websites in order to increase your traffic and improve your rankings? Well, there’s article marketing, social bookmarking, and – blah, blah, blah…

Let’s face it – you’ve probably heard the same old link building strategies repeated ad nauseum around the net. So if you’re ready to try something new and really get noticed, check out the following 13 unconventional link building techniques:

Strategy #1 – Get listed with the library

Google and the other search engines recognize that public libraries have some of the best cultivated, most extensively researched collections of links on the internet, and they often place a priority on these links as a result. So if you can sweet talk your local librarian into adding a link to your website, you could see a substantial SEO benefit from it.

To get started, research the websites of the local libraries in your area and beyond, as the caliber of their websites will vary naturally. Look specifically for groups of reference links or recommended websites and see if the library offers any link categories that your site could fit into. Don’t try to force your link into categories where it doesn’t work (and definitely don’t try to get libraries to link to your thin affiliate niche site), but when you see a potential match, fire off a polite email to the reference librarian requesting a link back to your site be added.

Strategy #2 – Host a giveaway

People love free stuff, so one way to attract a lot of backlinks in a short amount of time is to host a free giveaway. For example, you could give away an iTunes gift card with the only entry fee being a link back to your website. Remember – the goofier or more outrageous your promotion is, the more viral attention you’ll gather (just imagine how many backlinks you could attract if you gave a way a car or similar big ticket item!).

Strategy #3 – Become a product reviewer

Sites like Amazon, Google Shopping and Epinions all rely on user-generated reviews in order to provide the social proof that drives their sales, but it’s not like they’re taking advantage of their reviewers. In many instances, writing product reviews for these and other similar sites gives you the opportunity to leave a reference link to support your research (which, conveniently enough, can lead back to your site). The more reviews you write, the more links you receive.

Strategy #4 – Set up a guest speaking gig

Limiting your link building efforts to the internet is short-sighted – there’s an entire world out there that can help your SEO efforts! For example, suppose you reserved a room at your local university and offered to give a free presentation on a topic in your niche. Assuming you advertised your speaking gig correctly, you could see a surge of backlinks from local news sources or other local publications covering your event (not to mention the participants who share word about your presentation on various social networking sites).

Strategy #5 – Build an app

Building and releasing an app can be a time-consuming, expensive proposition, but if you come up with something really good, you could find your company featured on various app review sites (along with that coveted backlink to your site). To get started, research the types of apps that are currently doing well on the iPhone and Android platforms, then find a developer via Guru or Upwork who can help you create your own mobile product.

Strategy #6 – Set up a 1-800 number

Search Google for any 1-800 number and you’ll see a number of directories pop up offering to provide more information about the company you’re searching for. Consider the flip side – as a business owner, you may be able to contact these directories and provide additional information about your business’s 1-800 number, including a link back to your site. The directory owners benefit from the additional details they can provide searchers while you get a link back to your site for your efforts.

Strategy #7 – Release a coupon code

Coupon code sites – like Retailmenot or CouponCabin – are incredibly popular with recession-era consumers, who often visit these sites before making purchases to ensure they’re getting the best possible deals. As a business owner, you can take advantage of this additional interest by releasing your own coupon codes, which will get you featured on these sites with a link back for consumers to use.

Strategy #8 – Alert the media

Make your site media-ready by networking on sites like Help a Reporter Out. Remember – it only takes one mention in a major media publication to result in a substantial amount of links back to your site!

Strategy #9 – Interview the experts

You’ll need to have a little clout in your industry (or a heck of a lot of chutzpah), but if you can snag an interview with an expert in your interview, just imagine how many people will want to link back to your published interview to spread the word.

Strategy #10 – Wine and dine ‘em

Trying to nail down some high PageRank links from major companies in your industry? Do business the old fashioned way by inviting them out to dinner! Wine them, dine them and then ask for a link back to your website when appropriate. You might be surprised by how receptive business owners are after a good meal and a few glasses of wine!

Strategy #11 – Post a job listing

Granted, this option only works if you actually plan to expand your business by taking on a new employee, but if you need to post a job listing, you’re in luck – these postings can result in hundreds of new links back to your site. Individual job listings are often syndicated across multiple sites through services like Indeed.com (in addition to the job seekers who forward your listing to friends and business contacts), resulting in a massive influx of links for your SEO campaigns.

Strategy #12 – Network locally

Brick and mortar stores aren’t the ones who can take advantage of local networking opportunities to boost business interest. Consider the following local networking options from Outspoken Media author Lisa Barone that website owners can use locally to increase traffic and backlinks back to their sites:

  • Ask your vendors and local, non-competing businesses that you work with to link to you when it makes sense.
  • Join the Better Business Bureau.
  • Join your Chamber of Commerce.
  • Support local charities.

Strategy #13 – Join industry trade organizations

Not only can joining industry trade organizations boost your perceived authority in your niche, you’re also usually entitled to a listing in the group’s directory – complete with a link back to your site. Yes, there are typically fees associated with this strategy, but you may find that these fees are reasonable when compared with the cost associated with paid directory links or other paid linking methods. You might also pick up business directly from people who access your professional profile!

Whichever strategy you decide to pursue, keep in mind that link building is a long term effort. You don’t need to try out all of these strategies at once – simply focus on adding a few new high-quality links every month and you’ll soon start to see the benefits of your linking campaigns.


Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel has over 12 years of digital marketing experience and has helped hundreds of clients increase web traffic, boost user acquisition, and grow their businesses. He’s currently the VP of Marketing at When I Work, the top rated employee scheduling software. In addition to his role at When I Work Sujan co-founded ContentMarketer.io and wrote the book on Growth Hacking titled 100 Days of Growth.
Sujan Patel
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • http://hotflashhits.com/TurningUpTheHeat/ Catherine White

    These are great tips on building back links to your website.
    Some of the ideas you present, I had not thought of but will be investigating.
    Building a natural flow of back links will naturally increase your page rankings.
    Thanks for the information.

  • http://oirsworld.com Stev Newbury

    Some really interesting techniques discussed there, it’s good to read a fresh angle on this ever important topic!

  • http://www.vWorker.com Rod Smith

    Thanks for the tips Sujan. Another option on #5 (building an app) is to use vWorker.com (which has almost a hundred thousand app developers to choose from). Unlike the sites mentioned, vWorker doesn’t require you to have to know enough about programming to choose the proper candidate. Instead you watch them compete in an on-the-job audition and then work with only the best…so you always get the best candidate, every time. More info is here:

    • http://www.singlegrain.com/blog/ Sujan Patel


      Great addition. I’ll have to check out vworker.com

  • http://www.linkbuildr.com Ryan Clark

    Great post Sujan and thanks for keeping us in mind! The amount of overly boring and rehashed link building posts coming out these days was starting to drive me a little bonkers. Keep it fresh and I can’t wait for your next post.

    • http://www.singlegrain.com/blog/ Sujan Patel

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m with you on the same old boring link building post 🙂

  • http://www.ukhealthinsurance-services.co.uk Victor Barnes

    Great tips! I think all of them are really unique and worth trying for. I have tried Alerting the media and it is a tedious task, but if you are successfully pitching, It is a great way to create awareness. I think this is the right time to do it as there is not much spamming happening there!

  • http://www.techbloghub.com Shahid

    As i am new blogger and i need to search for many things individually on net but here i got whole and sole idea about the complete SEO strategy. Thanks a lot for sharing this with us.. Love your work and appreciate your knowledge. Hoping good things like this from you in future.

  • http://www.abaloriosygemas.com Ros

    I just tried putting a review on Amazon and can’t for the life of me get my link to appear as a link, even when inputting it in html. Pity, as this would be a great way to get a backlink or two!

  • http://www.alliance-link.com debra mastaler

    @Ros – only top reviewers get outbound links in their profiles.

    • http://www.abaloriosygemas.com Ros

      Oh, thanks for that Debra!

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    Some of these techniques are bordering on paying for links. Even though it’s more indirect, it’s still frowned upon. Also, you want to remember that you don’t just want links on any old site. They should be relevant.

  • http://facebookemoticons006.blogspot.com/ nazrul

    really interesting techniques for all. Thank you for this

  • http://www.premierfurnitureltd.co.uk andy

    SEO—> quality or quantity

    Every single SEO has there own techniques for gaining links. However we are all aiming towards the same principle, to get high ranking positions in Serps.

    keep your site fresh, deep links, guest blogging, press releases will help a lot more than traditional linkbuiding.

  • http://www.digitalkeydesign.com CWP

    Thanks for the tips I will be using these on my web site as I build and launch the business. Great read!

  • http://www.webdrafter.com Thom Casey

    “Make your site media-ready by networking on sites like Help a Reporter Out. Remember – it only takes one mention in a major media publication to result in a substantial amount of links back to your site!”

    And it also results in good traffic to the site. When I worked as a reporter, I used to get e-mails telling me the subject got great leads and results all because of a newspaper article.

  • http://www.searchforsoft.com Jack Trades

    In spite of being quite hard to build, link wheels are also an efficient alternative method of link building, especially if you’re smart enough not to close the chain.

  • http://Www.gourmetdesign.com.Au Steve

    The great thIng about many of these suggestions is that not many people are doing them and also they are likely to be long term quality links.

    The easier a link is to get (i.e. low hanging fruit everyone goes for) the less value it has. Great post, thanks.

  • http://findcheaperinsurance.ca/blog BD Williams

    The coupon code idea is brilliant.

  • http://bloggerwhale.blogspot.in Blogger Whale

    Great tips.I think building an app will go a long way.I remember how templates and widgets used to fetch a lot of inbound links.Apps are currently in and a successful app will really benefit a site in mammoth ways.