As link builders, we can get a bit “stuck in our ways”. Sometimes we focus too much on the technical aspects of building links and forget that link building should be a creative endeavor.
By allowing ourselves to be creative we begin to realize there are numerous way to build links through a multitude of channels. One such channel is offline, in the “real” world.
Although links exist online, it doesn’t mean we can’t utilize offline strategies to build links. One of the best ways to build links offline is through events, and there are a number of ways to do this.
Host an Offline Event
One of the best ways to build links offline is through hosting your own event.
While links are extremely valuable in terms of SEO, it’s simply not feasible to host an event just for the sake of building some links. But there are a number of other viable reasons to host an offline event, and if you already have one planned there’s no reason you can’t build some great links as well, especially if online visibility is important to your company.
However, these links don’t come easily and much like with traditional link building, you have to do the necessary work. So let’s go through all the different types of events you might already have planned and highlight the potential link opportunities.
Host a Small Local Event
If you’re a small business, it likely makes more sense for you to host local events.
For building links, the main consideration is who you will invite. Some people who may offer link opportunities include:
- Local media/News Team
- Prominent Bloggers and Local Influencers
- Members of Target Audience
Local Media/News Team
Although it can be difficult to entice the local media to attend your small event, there are some best practices you can follow to attract media attention. If you can convince the media to come, it is likely you can acquire a link from their site through the coverage of the event. Here is an example of a local media site covering a local event:
These links are extremely valuable as news sites are typically high-quality, trusted sites.
Prominent Bloggers and Local Influencers
Inviting prominent local bloggers and influencers is another great link opportunity. Bloggers are often overlooked, but they are important in today’s digital age and are often flattered to be invited and receive recognition. These are the people who are most likely to write a review or synopsis of your event and link back to your company/site. Here is an example from a local Boise event:
Of course, this is only possible if you identify these people and ensure they receive an invitation.
Members of Your Target Audience
Finally, you need to ensure members from your target audience attend your event. It’s obvious that you should invite your target audience as they are typically the whole reason you are hosting the event, but it may be less obvious that link opportunities lie with this audience as well.
Although this group may not be as influential as the one listed above, it is likely that some members of this group have their own sites/blogs and could possibly write a review of your event (complete with a link back to your site). Remember to always monitor brand mentions, as you can reach out to those who cover your event but aren’t linking to your site.
Sponsor an Event
Companies often don’t have the time, energy, or resources to host an event themselves, but still want to be involved in their community. If you’re planning on sponsoring an event, there are plenty of link opportunities.
If the event you are sponsoring has a “Sponsors” page on the event’s website, you will typically receive a link. For example, here is a “Sponsors” page for a local music festival:
This is both a great way to build brand awareness and backlinks. If you’re sponsoring an event, and there’s a page listing sponsors, it’s worth having a link and the brand exposure.
Host a Large Event or Conference
Finally, if you do plan to host any large events or conferences, there are some outstanding link opportunities to go along with the brand exposure involved in such large events.
Much like with smaller events, it is important to ensure the right groups attend. This includes the media, prominent bloggers, target audience/customers, industry influencers, partner companies, etc. However, there are some unique offline link building opportunities here, including:
- Invite Industry Experts to Speak
- Give Interviews & Provide Quotes
- Give Away Merchandise
Invite Industry Experts to Speak
Inviting industry experts and influencers to speak is very common when hosting large events. Make sure to leverage this when looking for link opportunities!
Those who speak will likely write a summary of what they said on their own site and include a link back to yours. For example:
You can even write a summary of their presentation on your own site or blog to make it easier for these people to link to you.
Give Interviews and Provide Quotes
Another way to build links at large events is by giving interviews or providing quotes.
Not only will those who interview you link to you, but others in the industry will often link to the interview as well – which only further increases the value of your links. This strategy only works if you are already viewed as an authority within your niche.
Here is an example of an interview Danny Sullivan did ahead of his conference (SMX West), which provided him with a link from Moz to his site (Search Engine Land).
Give Away Merchandise
These large events are the perfect place to give away branded merchandise.
Conferences are great for giving away merchandise because the majority of those attending will be within your niche or industry – or at the very least, interested in your industry. These are the people who you want talking about your company, as they typically share the same audience and often have their own websites.
By giving these people merchandise you can get them talking about your company, which not only means brand exposure, but can also lead to a link.
The key here is to give away things that people actually want and would be excited to receive. Give away something that has the potential to create conversation – something unique, that people would want to tell others about (and provide a link in the process).
There is typically a lot of merchandise given away at conferences so it can be hard to stand out, and I certainly wouldn’t suggest giving someone merchandise and subsequently asking for a link. However, if you give away something that excites people, they will want to talk about it.
Attend an Offline Event
Much like hosting an offline event, similar link building opportunities are available through simply attending an offline event.
For example, you can speak at an event you attend, and get links from being listed as a speaker. Here is a link I got from speaking at SES San Francisco in 2012:
You can also get links from others covering your presentation. Here is another example of a link I received from Advanced Web Ranking, as part of their coverage of SES San Francisco 2013:
Networking at these events can also provide you with quality links. Find potential partnerships, build relationships with vendors, join an association – all of these can lead to links. Simply interacting with another company in a notable or memorable (and positive) way can sometimes lead to a great link.
Here is an example of a link Page One Power got from an interview my brother and I did with Bruce Clay Inc. leading up to SES New York 2012:
The interview opportunity came from a connection I had built through attending previous conferences.
Finally, you can write a review of the event and your experiences. There will always be an audience of people who wanted to attend the event, but were unable to. If you write an in-depth review of the event, people within this audience are likely to share your review, often by linking to it.
Here is an example of Linkarati receiving a link for its coverage of the Matt Cutts Q&A Session from SMX Advanced:
Links connect one website to another, which means the majority of link building strategies must be implemented online. However, this does not mean it’s impossible to build links offline. Specifically, offline events can provide a wealth of opportunities to build links, including:
- Hosting a small local event
- Media coverage
- Invite local bloggers
- Links from members of target audience with websites
- Sponsoring an event
- Sponsor pages
- Be aware of sponsor mentions (leverage links where possible)
- Hosting a large event/conference
- News coverage
- Speaking engagements
- Special giveaways, merchandising
- Opportunities through attending an offline event
- News coverage
Featured Image: Created by author for SEJ
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