3 More Advanced Backlink Strategies Instead of Guest Blogging

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3 More Advanced Backlink Strategies Instead of Guest Blogging

Link building is about great content and finding ways to get the word out about it so that people can find it. The important thing to remember is you need to have a clear content strategy that leads to people find your content and giving you links. I wrote this post on SEJ about alternatives to guest blogging without having to guest post. Here are three more advanced link building strategies you can use to get people to share images or content and help drive backlinks without any link requests.

Use Sponsorships to Drive Traffic And Work as Link Bait.

Sponsorships sound scary!  Well maybe not scary, but they sound expensive which is usually a turn off.  So let’s throw giant event sponsorships and other expensive things out the door and get more realistic.  If you’re a small business, a blogger, or don’t have the $20K to have your brand plastered on a huge sign, you can still gain exposure and generate the links you need.  I’ll start with an example that I used at a tradeshow for getting leads that turned into backlinks and then give you a couple of examples that you can use that are easy and affordable.

Affiliate Summit is one of the only tradeshows I say is a must-attend.  Each show has a huge themed costume party thrown by ShareaSale.  If you’ve met me before, or been to a ShareaSale party at Affiliate Summit, you know it’s all about the costumes and I don’t like to underdress.

A couple years ago the theme was Masquerade.  It gave me an idea to turn an awesome costume into a full-blown marketing campaign.  In addition to the goal of driving leads for my company and bringing in new affiliates for my clients, it ended up becoming link bait for a standalone landing page URL.

advanced backlink building strategies

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/affiliate Owner: Shawn Collins

I bought a fun costume and added a sash with a URL, jewelry, and created a character for it.  I then created a name for the character and gave her business cards with the URL on them.  I also created a tagline for her that makes sense to affiliate industry veterans and would generate questions for new people in the industry.  Once I had the costume on, sash and business cards in gear, proper attitude for the character and the right comfy shoes, I was ready with my marketing and what became a linkbait campaign.

I started walking through the Paris Casino in Las Vegas and people instantly started stopping me for photos or calling out the name on the sash.  That’s when I knew it was a winning campaign, since people got the name they could remember by reading the sash.  Getting people to notice me wasn’t the hard part.  The challenge was making sure my sash with my URL was in every photo.

During the party tons of affiliates, merchants, network reps, vendors, bloggers, and everyone in between came up for photos with me.  I made sure I didn’t drink so I could always focus on the angle of the cameras and so that the URL showed almost perfectly when someone was taking a picture.

Because I made sure the URL was always visible, as the images were shared around the web, Facebook and Twitter, people used the photos in their show wrap-ups, they linked to the URL and others mentioned it during podcast reviews.  Now people could find the site since they knew how to properly reference the costume and character.

These links helped me to rank for some long tail keywords and the links and social shares also drove in nearly 2K visitors from the show and social media sites.  I still actually get some backlinks from the photos when people do their favorite recaps from the show.  Many of the links are high quality and very targeted since they are from sites within the niche the URL is dedicated to.  I also still get some sign ups for the programs I manage that are listed on the landing page.

So how can you use a similar tactic without having to wear an insane costume or embarrassing yourself?  Use other forms of sponsorships to drive backlinks.

How to Use Sponsorships to Drive Backlinks

Sponsorhips for backlinks

Find a beach town or small town on the way to a ski, camping, or resort area with year round events like pet parades, film festivals or even concerts and races.  Look for towns along the main routes that traffic has to go through with broadband access.  Some of the things to look for include stores that have websites and/or blogs (even Twitter and Facebook icons on their signs and windows), stadiums or recreational parks.

Once you find these areas, write down the towns’ names and look for their big local events, or the local events that people drive through the towns to get to.

In Washington DC we have tons of small beach towns that DC, Philly, Richmond, Baltimore and other cities flock to year round.  Many of these small towns are heavily Christian and sponsoring their town’s Christmas tree with $500 to $1,000 in donations can gain a lot of buzz.  The local stores and communities will be thankful and often write about it or mention it on their sites and blogs.

Local organizations and groups like schools or the government committee responsible are normally happy to mention you donated the decorations or sponsorship and there is also a good chance you’ll now get backlinks from them.  These can easily be .gov, .edu and backlinks from retail stores which are usually high quality as well.

As people decorate the tree or take pictures during a lighting ceremony, you will find tweets and other posts help send the search engines social signals. Even if you aren’t going for the backlinks, this is a great way to build a customer base and a loyal following without spending a ton of money.  Because the town is online, you have also helped to build a new customer base that can shop for your products and talk about you.

If your products aren’t always available in these small towns (i.e. large fish tanks, ceiling tiles, and modern home decor, designer clothing, etc…) they have to shop online anyways and now they have a place to shop at that supports their local community.

As you see the links come in or mentions of your store, offer the locals a discount for living there and now the mentions of you store from sites can turn into backlinks and social media shares because the site or blog owners need to show people how to find you.

These sponsorships help communities (you could donate food, create a centerpiece in the town square like a decorated holiday tree or even set up a scholarship for one lucky student to go to school, etc…) and can help you to feel good about yourself for doing something nice. If you do it the right way and follow up, you may also be able to get backlinks and traffic coming to your site that shops and helps to grow your business.

It is a huge win for everyone if done correctly and for the right reasons.

Using Email Campaigns And Gates to Build Backlinks.

using gates to build links

One thing you never want to do is use a gate and require a backlink as a way to access content.  This is a definite way to get a huge slap from a search engine and a way to prevent people from finding your content.  In case you’ve never used gates, here is what they are.

Gates block your content until a person completes an action to unlock it.  It can be anything from like our Facebook page to view or enter a contest or even to share your content on Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Some people may use them to ask visitors to pay $5 via Paypal to access other bullet points or infographic.  They are a great way to get readers and visitors to do something to benefit your site or drive traffic.

So if you cannot tell someone to link to you, how do you use emails and gates to drive backlinks?  Simple: have something of quality that makes them want to share, or include the main thing that they wanted as the share with a reference back to your site.

Gates on a Page:

By having an infographic, an image or something else that is unique to your site and the main focus of your content, you can watermark it with your URL so people know where and how to source it.  If you use infographics with links in them (even though Matt Cutts has been clear they do not like this unless you use a no-follow) you can have that as the item to uncover with the gate. By getting this information uncovered and shared, you can now gain exposure to people’s followings.

If they tag their shares and comments right, or you pre-fill the copy for the share for them, you may get the attention of bloggers, journalists or other people who have the ability to give you a backlink.   That is one of the added benefits of using a gate on content that is easy to link to.  It has the ability to show people with websites the way you want it to be linked to without actually giving specific instructions which helps them appear natural.

The trick is having something valuable under the gate so you don’t anger, annoy, and lose a reader. If it is generic, not really that interesting or something that exists everywhere else already, you could annoy the user and cause them to not open a gate again.

It is still up to the person, but you can use a gate to get the content in front of them and their friends, fans and followers.  Then the viewers can decide to give you a link or not.   You can also use this with email campaigns for newsletters where a small part is only available through a gate.  You do need to be careful not to do it too often as it can create a bad user experience for your subscribers and make them want to opt out or no longer subscribe to you.

Gates Before a Landing Page:

Using gates when someone clicks from the email can be tricky.  There are a ton of ways to do it, but it can also create a horrible user experience for the end-user.  Here are three possible ways you can make the gate less of an obstacle and more fun for the end-user.

  1. Create a game.  The person clicks on the gate and goes to a random game before they see the landing page, product or deal.  The game can spit out a coupon code to save them on their purchase at random or the more questions they get right, the higher the discount they can get.  It could be a spinning wheel, answering questions about your store or brand (this can help with backlinks), or by guessing which box has the better code.  This can also cause your subscribers to share your emails and help you grow your list.
  2. Have all of your products on sale on the landing page, but have a few surprise sale items that can only be seen if the person unlocks the gate.  You can ask them to Tweet the page for the first item, share on Facebook, for the second and Pin to Pinterest for the third.  This helps get you exposure and extra links coming in from these sites.  If a blogger or journalist finds it, they may even write about it.  It’s also a great way to get in front of deal Bloggers.
  3. Have the gate open before they hit the page and let them know that if they share they get an extra deal, or they can click-through and still get what they wanted.  This is important because you don’t want to prevent a sale by making the end-user do something.  Always have a click-through option to get to the main messaging of your email campaign.

So how do these lead to backlinks?  If one or two deal bloggers or mommy bloggers missed the email or weren’t on the list but come across the share, they may add it to their sites.  Not only will you get those links, but all of the other mommy and deal bloggers in their network will now see them, potentially giving you a ton of new backlinks and helping to drive new customers to your site.

Use Your Customer Service Team to Help Build Links

using customer service to build backlinksYour customer service team is always talking to happy and upset customers.  They are the face of your company and they can help to generate some amazing PR and backlinks for you.  The only thing you have to do is to train them and add it to their routine.

When your customer service reps have a very happy customer or someone who says they have a blog or large following on social media, add a section for this to your customer service scripts to ask for a share or mention your company, only if they are a happy customer.  The person actually did shop with you and had a good experience so why not ask for the mention?

Other times they had a bad experience and your customer service team turned it into a good one.  If the person mentions that they have a website, why not ask them for a mention or review of the service.  You don’t have to say link back to the company’s website, but chances are the person will.

The main goal of this isn’t backlinks, but to get exposure to their readers, followers, and fans.  Happy customers are the best possible people to have talking about you because they had a good experience with your company and now their friends, family and followers will know you are a trustworthy source for whatever product or service you sell. The added benefits are the social shares and signals as well as possible backlinks that they may give you.

People are still wondering how to build backlinks if you cannot guest post, spin articles, leave blog comments, participate on forums, submit to directories, etc…  The truth is that you can still easily get high quality backlinks without having to spend a ton of money.  You need to go back to traditional marketing and ask people to share your site or content, use sponsorships, or asking a customer to tell their friends about you. Using these tactics, you can build natural backlinks easily and without having to spend a ton of money.

All images via Shutterstock and http://www.flickr.com/photos/affiliate Owner: Shawn Collins.

Adam Riemer
Adam Riemer is a long time online marketing veteran. With more than 10 years of experience in SEO, Ethical Affiliate Management, Adware and Theft detection... Read Full Bio
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  • Shawn McConnell

    Having your customer service team help with link building is pretty novel. You could assign them to speak to there distributor contacts to get your company link on their site

    • Adam Riemer

      Hi Shawn,

      That is something that some companies do. Other companies like comparison engines and review sites will ask the ecommerce sites and merchants to link back to their site to view the reviews if they are good ones. These could somewhat get you a penalization since they aren’t necessarily earned, but at the same time I still see a lot of sites that use this ranking well. The trick is to make sure you have a solid natural linking profile as well.

      Some manufacturers have a section for distributors and retailers and this could be a good place to be that is natural since it is a resource and you do carry the products, but it is walking a very thin line for your backlinks if you do not have many.

      Thank you for the comment and good tip.


  • MikSas (@miksas)

    Now, those are tips that are #GoogleUpdateProof! #DontTellMatt LOL!

    • Adam Riemer

      Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Devit Harison

    Actually this article is so informative. I think it is very helpful to visitor. Thanks a lot to the blogger.

    • Adam Riemer

      No problem Devit. I’m glad you enjoyed it and found it helpful.

  • Tom

    Dressing up at a conference is certainly one of the more outside of the box tips I’ve ever heard of … great job with that!

    • Adam Riemer

      LOL, thanks Tom. A lot of my clients enjoy the creative link building ideas we come up with for link bait. It isn’t only for a conference or party though. Think about local events that get press coverage each year and try doing something similar. Having your url visible and in photos will help drive traffic and if the right people see them, then you can get backlinks as an added bonus.

  • Jakes

    You might have heard the phrase “Nice tips” a lot of time in the comments. I agree these are nice, but what really caught my sense is these are quite new tips. Everyone might have thought about conferences and summits as a way to promote blogs and build more connections. But they might have never thought indirectly in the long run, they also result in getting backlinks.

    I guess a single person handling a blog is tough these days. There are lot of things to do. So, it’s better to hire a team or split the tasks among your co-bloggers.

  • Paul

    Great read Adam! It’s an interesting way how you mix offline techniques (like direct sponsorship) with online output 🙂

    • Adam Riemer

      Thanks Paul.

      A lot of companies forget that they can use their ad spends and media spends in addition to offline efforts when exhibiting or doing a giveaway at an event to build backlinks and generate social signals for the search engines.

      You can drive a ton of quality links from relevant sites by thinking about how to tie in your url and always leaving a pr piece with someone who says they are a Blogger, Journalist or website owners.

      Thank you for your comment.


  • Current News Of India

    Create a game. The person clicks on the gate and goes to a random game before they see the landing page, product or deal. The game can spit out a coupon code to save them on their purchase at random or the more questions they get right, the higher the discount they can get. It could be a spinning wheel, answering questions about your store or brand (this can help with backlinks), or by guessing which box has the better code. This can also cause your subscribers to share your emails and help you grow your list. Have all of your products on sale on the landing page, but have a few surprise sale items that can only be seen if the person unlocks the gate. You can ask them to Tweet the page for the first item, share on Facebook, for the second and Pin to Pinterest for the third. This helps get you exposure and extra links coming in from these sites. If a blogger or journalist……

    • Adam Riemer

      This is copying and pasting from the post. Did you have a question about this section or is there something I can help with?

  • Adam Riemer

    Hi Jakes,

    Thank you for the nice comment…sorry had too… Glad you enjoyed the post. You still only need one person to run a blog, unless it is a giant one that sells ad space, needs multiple original content updates each day, etc… The trick is using the right plugins, automating the sharing on social sites and putting the right spam filters in place.

    Thank you again for reading and glad you enjoyed the post.


  • Beth Corneglio

    I liked your article. I feel as though sponsorship sounds more like paid link building though…not that I disagree with the concepts you presented but just thought I’d share my opinion.

    • adam

      Hi Beth,

      Thank you for the comment. Sponsorships could be, but it depends how you do it.

      In the post I talk about sending something to a town square for decor or to help a non profit or even sponsor a drag queen, a runner at a high heel race, funny contest, etc… In no way shape or form is that paid link building.

      You have the drag queen, racer or funny person wear your url somewhere and if you do it right and that person gets the exposure, it naturally attracts backlinks. If you donate and they mention you during a ceremony, bloggers, stores and people who write about the town, charity or event may mention you and link to you as well.

      You can sponsor something and buy links yes, but that isn’t what I talked about above. I gave examples of baiting for links, not buying where anyone can sponsor and get one. There is definitely a fine line between it, but if the links come in naturally because a newspaper took a photo and your url is there, that is a natural progression of links and definitely not paid.


  • Chris M Cloutier

    It seems like more and more SEO professionals are writing about stuff like this. Gaining backlinks and achieving good SEO as a byproduct of good content, proper marketing and ethics.

    I’m not saying its a bad thing its just different.

  • Ravi Chauhan

    Every business website need good backlink for get better result in Google. I have read your 3 advanced backlink strategies, i like it and more helpful in build backlinks. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Umair Maqsood (@UmairMaqsood)

    Are these tips good for a B2B Company? The 1st one would make a sense if you’re B2C company. B2B companies often refrain doing that because of being too formal

  • Fausta Germani

    Thanks Adam for sharing, today is very difficult to find teams that do good backlink, all they want to do in a hurry and often use automation software that are readily penalized.

  • Fausta Germani

    Thanks Adam for sharing, today is very difficult to find teams that do good backlink, all they want to do in a hurry and often use automation software that are readily penalized. (sorry for comment mistake)

  • adam

    Hi Fausta. No problem at all. Yup, automated link building is never a good idea in my opinion. There are plenty of ways to build good, high quality links without having to automate.

  • adam

    Hi Umair,

    Thank you for the comment. Yes, all of them can be applied to a B2B company. You need to tweak them but it is very easy to do even if the company is very formal.


  • Sanjay Maharjan

    These strategies are advanced for sure. One has to think beyond general link building strategies for making search engines love the linked domain. As hard as it is to conduct the above mentioned workouts, at the end we get high quality backlinks and opportunity for offline promotion as well.

    Well, customer service concept is more feasible for the industry I am working at. But when tried out, customer supporting people may feel like they are doing the additional job of SEO. Instead, they are to be assured that the tasks are for brand promotion.

  • Dermot Gilley

    That sash thing is a brilliant idea (as are your gates, though that requires some technology). I wonder if they allow you to throw confetti in a casino too? You could get confetti, a little larger than normal though, and print URLs on them (it needs to be fire-proof paper, by the way, to be allowed indoors). You could also get a different URL for each of, say ten colors, then mix them so that people start “collecting” from each color eventually. Or get fortune cookies and distribute them like candy at a carnival and have a “tag line” with URL in them. Your methods are up-to-date, I still wonder why people promote commenting for backlinking so much then. PageRank, as patented by Google’s founders, has links from a web page transfer ‘link juice’ to another web page. PageRank got inherited that way, whether the outgoing site’s owner liked it or not. As growing amounts of comments started diluting the PageRank of the sites that invited comments, nofollow attribute was being used widely. It was created to avoid passing PR through comment links. Few blogs don’t use it now, so how does commenting contribute to PageRank? If it doesn’t, use it as a backlinking strategy? Except for a short spike of traffic by thread readers it would be a waste of effort if it was not a bona-fide interest in that blog’s discussion?