17 More Unconventional Link Building Strategies

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There’s nothing I hate more than rehashed, regurgitated content – and unfortunately, the SEO world is full of advice that’s been repeated so often that the only thing it’s good for is wasting your time.

In my last article – 13 Unconventional Link Building Strategies – I broke this mold by showing you a few of the more unusual link building strategies I use to help my clients’ websites gain brand recognition and high rankings within the search results pages.

Today, I’ve got a few more techniques to share with you.  I hope you find them useful as you grow and develop your own web projects!

Strategy #1 – Build a free tool or software program

Website owners are always looking for new techniques that will help them to outrank their competitors and tools that will help make the process of managing websites easier.  As you might expect, if you provide a tool or software program that helps site owners to manage either of these needs, you’ll wind up with plenty of good press and, consequently, more backlinks to your site.

Strategy #2 – Build supplementary micro sites

If you’ve worked in web marketing for any amount of time, you know that one way backlinks from highly relevant, high quality sites are just about the best links you can get.  But since it can be difficult to get other site owners to link back to your pages, why not simply build your own “micro sites”?  A small WordPress satellite site that slowly drips out original content can gain PageRank pretty quickly, making it the perfect way to start funneling high powered links back to your site.

Strategy #3 – Swap services with local businesses in exchange for links

Bartering has long been an acceptable form of payment, but in this case, instead of bartering for goods or services, you’ll be bartering for backlinks.  To make this technique work, ask your existing business connections if they have any small projects you can help with.  Instead of charging your usual rate, simply ask for a link back to your site in return.

(Of course, as with most of these techniques, you’ll get the best results if your links come from businesses that are relevant to your own.  For this reason, when looking for potential link partners, try to focus your activities on businesses within your same industry.)

Strategy #4 – Release content on Scribd, Slideshare and Docstoc

All of the sites listed above allow users to share informational materials with others for free.  The materials shared on these sites are typically well-regarded by the search engines, making it easy for people to find your content and share it with other users.  Start by releasing a few small reports on these sites and monitoring the impact on your backlink profile.  If you see a good amount of growth, expand your presence here in order to increase your total backlinks even further.

Strategy #5 – Buy an existing blog

This technique works like Strategy #2, except that, instead of reinventing the wheel and building sites from scratch, you simply purchase existing sites to link back to your main pages.  Although you’ll need to continue updating these supplementary sites regularly, you’ll save a lot of time over building up new pages.  To find existing blogs, check Flippa.com for relevant listings or contact site owners who have let their blogs lapse over time.

Strategy #6 – Provide testimonials for popular products

No matter what industry you’re in, there are likely people selling both physical and digital products online within your niche.  When building the sales copy needed to sell these products, retailers often look for good testimonial content to make their pitches even more effective.  One way to leverage this need to your own advantage is to offer to review products for these retailers in exchange for a backlink pointing at your own site.

Strategy #7 – Develop a Firefox or Chrome Plugin

As with Strategy #1, releasing free Firefox or Chrome plugins can be a great way to quickly build interest and backlinks back to your site.  However, for either of these strategies to work, your tool or plugin needs to be interesting enough for site owners to want to share it with their audiences.  Take a look at the existing plugins that are available and find ways to improve on their functionality, or create something entirely new based on an unmet need you uncover.

Strategy #8 – Develop infographics

Infographics are a classic type of linkbait content, as they tend to be shared socially more often than standard articles.  Unfortunately, too many people believe that creating these informative graphics is a difficult – if not impossible – task, which prevents them from taking advantage of this great opportunity.  However, there are so many talented graphic designers working today that having infographics developed based on the statistics you provide can be done effectively and cheaply (though the total cost to do so often pales in comparison to the number of backlinks you’ll receive for one good infographic).

Strategy #9 – Release free WordPress themes or plugins

By releasing a free WordPress theme or plugin, you won’t just build links through blog and forum mentions by people using your tools – you’ll also have the opportunity to embed a link on every site where your theme or plugin is installed.  Just be sure to familiarize yourself with WordPress’s disclosure requirements, as tricking users into deploying your links automatically could get you kicked out of the blogging giant’s directory.

Strategy #10 – Reclaim missed link opportunities

Set up Google alerts that notify you every time someone mentions your branded keywords and check out each site that comes up in your alerts.  If you find that people are referencing your website, or if your 404 logs show that people who should be linking to you are no longer doing so, contact these webmasters and ask that they link back to your content to provide appropriate attribution.

Strategy #11 – Host a charity event

What goes around comes around – and this is certainly true of link juice!  One fun and worthwhile way to get the name of your website spread around the internet is by hosting a charity event or online fundraising drive.  Not only will you be able to help people with the donations and awareness you raise, your site will benefit from any press mentions your event receives.

Strategy #12 – Join a business networking group

Business networking groups come in all shapes and sizes – from informal local business owner groups to structured networking programs like BNI.  Any of these meet-ups represent a great way to get your business in front of others, as well as to uncover potential backlink opportunities from business owners in related niches whose clients may benefit from your unique products or services.

Strategy #13 – Speak to local college classes

While .edu links can be incredibly valuable, they can also be difficult to earn.  To pick up a few of these high powered backlinks, contact colleges in your area to arrange speaking gigs.  Whether you’re presenting on an industry topic to a specific class or holding a seminar in the school’s Career Center on your line of work, chances are these presentations will net you at least a handful of links back from the college’s departmental websites.

Strategy #14 – Recognize “power users” on your site

If you want your website visitors to become true advocates for your brand, consider implementing some system that recognizes their contributions on your website.  For example, you could award a “Power User” badge to the person who provides the most insightful comments on your business blog.  By recognizing readers in this way, you’ll increase the odds that they’ll mention your site – along with a link back – on their own pages.

Strategy #15 – Establish business relationships with sites in your industry

Essentially, this strategy follows the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” philosophy.  By forming relationships with other sites in your industry (particularly those with large audiences and that aren’t direct competitors), you should be able to uncover a few natural, organic opportunities to promote each other’s content.  Don’t exchange a link for a link, but do find ways to promote your contact’s site and they’ll likely return the favor at some point.

Strategy #16 – Sue someone or get sued

Okay, this one’s pretty far outside of the box – and there’s no arguing that getting involved in a legal dispute will likely cost you more in court fees than you’d spend on most other backlinking techniques.  However, you can’t deny that getting involved in a high profile lawsuit can lead to thousands of backlinks generated from press coverage, making this one possible way to quickly increase the size of your backlink profile.

Strategy #17 – Hire a publicist

If you want to court publicity in order to increase the number of links pointing at your site, suing someone isn’t the only way to achieve this.  In fact, you’ll likely be able to drive the same results by hiring a traditional PR agency to build both interest in your brand and backlinks to your site.

What other unique link building techniques do you use when building link juice back to your websites?  Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!


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... Read Full Bio
Sujan Patel
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  • I am appauled by your #16 strategy “Sue someone or get sued” , the fact that you would advocate sueing someone to get links is outrageous. There are MUCH better ways to get press coverage and if you think a high profile lawsuit is good for backlinks, I would argue that the negaive press coverage recieved would outweigh any SEO benefit

    • Getting sued or suing someone is definitely not the best way to build links but it is unconventional. If you are a business that is getting sued you can attempt to make the most of it by using it as a link building opportunity.

  • Building an iPhone app will get you some links as well, and it’s great for reputation management (if your app shares the name of your company, the app page is an easy page 1 result).

  • Thanks for including Flippa in this – its a trick that more and more SEOers are latching onto in terms of easily grabbing a relevant site with existing backlinks.

    Quick note that we’ve added backlinks to our advanced search at

  • Jon

    “Why not simply build your own “micro sites”? A small WordPress satellite site that slowly drips out original content can gain PageRank pretty quickly”


    • Charlie

      A micro site doesn’t have to be spam. If done tactfully, they can actually be quite beneficial for links and link juice. The key phrase there was ‘drips out original content’. Of course, if this micro-site was dripping re-spun garbage, well that’s a different story.

    • Brunob

      …and don´t forget googlebot can compare the IPs and WHOIS data and find out that it´s actually you praising yourself.

  • BAHAHAAH! Get Sued or Sue someone! How have I not thought of that yet!

    Other than that one, really good suggestions. I have had particular success with setting up satellite sites. Not only does it make the web a better place, as information is made more specialized, but it is a great way to get high quality, followed links to your money site.

  • CJ

    Strategy #2 – Build supplementary micro sites
    Strategy #5 – Buy an existing blog

    These strategies don’t have to be spam at all. But if you host them on the same IP address or have interlinking links throughout the “network” no matter how small, they will be ignored. Without that piece of information, strategy #2 & #5 is worthless.

    I am a lawyer and the fact that you even suggested #16 is absurd and most likely illegal in whatever jurisdiction you might be in. Very irresponsible to even publish that idea. I agree with Mike, that is appalling.

    • Hey CJ – If I may, what to you mean by interlinking links?

      • CJ

        The linking patterns can tip off Google’s algorithm. If you have ten sites pointing to one site and nothing else, it begins to be suspicious and is evidence that maybe those links should not be counted. It is better practice to have a more random link pattern among your network. Multiple sites linking to multiple sites that appear random which also includes links to sites outside of your network. Looks much more natural. Most importantly though is to host with different ip addresses, indicate different ownership of domains and everything else and to have original content.

      • Awesome – thank you, CJ!

      • Thanks for adding these great plnguis to your site! I’ve added them to a few of my sites as well and have seen great results. They are a great way to bring people to your blog and benefit the posters at the same time so everyone wins! The only problem I’ve run in to is the occasional spammer but Askimet with WP has done a pretty good job of keeping them under control. Thanks again!

  • Sean M.

    Strategy #4 has been a key component to my projects. It’s good to have pages like Scribd/Docstoc that you can constantly rely on. Always remember to document sites like that so you can come back to them for different projects. A really easy place that I recently stumbled across that is similar to Scribd/Docstoc is making a quick list on Ranker.com. It allows you to add your backlink to the ‘site’ field while editing your list. If you actually put some energy into making a good list it can send you some traffic as well, but if you just want to get a quick link up you can hit one of their “best movies of all time” type of lists, and make your own top 10 and just stick your backlink in. Note that they do seem to no-index content that is obvious spam ie. lists with just one or two items, but otherwise you get a nice easy do-follow link (which never hurts).

  • I know people say to never mix family and business, but family and friends can also provide a great opportunity for links. I spoke at a career day at a cousin’s college class and was able to promote my website on the class website.

  • Getting Sued and get backlinks is an extreme condition, We need to avoid those, but I agree it is unconventional. Building a free plugin or theme can be a good way to get a hand in market and get some backlinks.

  • Sue or get Sued? How about die a horrible headline grabbing death!!! It feels like we are grasping at thin air here!

    How are any of these applicable for the small business owner? I guess if I have a dentist officeI can exchange services for a link…..but that could cost me thousands!

    I cannot develop software or a plugin! An inforgraphic maybe?