I’ve been working in search and digital marketing for some years now and one of the things I’ve noticed is that just about everybody is a link building expert. No joke, just ask them.
Unfortunately, what a lot of those experts do is talk all about link building concepts without actually giving you the tips and tricks to build good quality links.
They like to keep you in the dark – either because they’re clueless about actual link building that works or they’re waiting for you to cough up the dough before they let you into their inner sanctum.
The result is boredom. The link practices we do hear about have become generic and rather dull.
Sure, they may have some impact, but if you’re a link builder by trade, well, to be honest, many of these tactics have become a yawn making bore-of-bores.
With that in mind, for the remainder of this post I want:
- To dispense with the waffling on about link building concepts and actually give you six real-world link building tips from the experts that will work for any business.
- Those five link building strategies to be imaginative and enjoyable. So much so that you might actually go and do them.
Dull link building be gone!
I haven’t simply heard about these link building tactics. Each one of them is a low-risk tactic that I’ve used with success and without penalty. What’s more, I enjoyed doing them.
Finally, I should also point out that it is almost impossible to find the creator or inventor of any particular link building strategy. However, I’ve tried to do my best to give credit where credit is due.
If you see a tip which you believe you (or someone else) invented or popularized, tweet @sejournal and I will consider sending you some chocolates.
1. Link Baiting The New York Times
How did WordStream get a link from the New York Times?
They had Larry Kim write a piece which basically said that Scott Brown would win the race to the Senate based on their analysis of social media activity.
They chose a hot topic (politics and an election), and they found an intriguing angle (Social Media as a Soothsayer). They then simply tied the two together in a way that was likely to attract media.
They laid out the bait via a press release and a coordinated social media outreach effort. In particular, they baited the people involved (Scott included) by hashtagging them on Twitter.
The New York Times and Politico were among the major outlets that took the bait.
Maybe you don’t need to link bait the New York Times. Think up your own appropriate target, develop a thoughtful strategy that covers each step and go for it.
[Who knows, if your bait is outrageous enough, you may even end up as the president of something.]
2. Asking The Dalai Lama for a Link
Since the rise of Google, SEO practitioners have been simply asking for links. Figuring out which expert did this first is like trying to figure out which caveman invented fire (I learned this bit of practical wisdom from Brian Dean).
If someone has mentioned you in some place, make contact – thank them – and kindly ask if they would mind linking to you. It doesn’t get much more simple than that.
Finding mentions of your brand is fairly easy to do. Mention and BuzzSumo are useful tools that will help you discover mentions of your brand. You could also do a simple search for your brand in Google.
Has the Dalai Lama mentioned your Goats Cheese Smoothie in his blog? Ask him for a link.
3. Fluffing an Experts Pillow with a Roundup
Expert roundups are a great way to bait influencers. Similar to the baiting mentioned above, only the motivation is a little more narcissistic.
Roundups more or less grew up and (at least in popularity) out of the blog carnival days. I have no idea who wrote the first roundup for search or link purposes, but one adopter and promoter of this dark art was Laura Christianson from Blogging Bistro.
The strategy is simple. Invite or quote a lineup of experts (or at least popular figures) on your niche or topic. Link out to them. Publish the work and let them know.
The goal is that they will share your guff (creating a social link) and may even reference your work down the track (creating a contextual link).
The other spin-off is the nature of the content itself – people like to follow a Guru, and so a good roundup also generates a healthy amount of traffic.
4. Sleeping with an Ally
I am not sure who else may have explicitly brought this tactic into the realm of link building apart from myself – though I’m sure I didn’t think of it first.
Collaboration (or collaborative marketing) is an aspect of chunk-up marketing – a conceptual view of marketing that seeks to create new opportunities for business.
In link building, the idea is this: You ask yourself, “Who else is serving the same client base or demographic as me – though not also in competition with me?”
In the world of chunk-up marketing (a derivative of the psychological modality known as neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP), this would be known as “chunking sideways.”
Take a hair salon. They deal with bridal parties. So do limo drivers. How can you (as a hair stylist) collaborate with a limousine company so as to boost your own business link profile?
Let me count the ways…
5. Reverse Engineering Your Guest Post
According to a Search Engine Journal article (4 Easy Steps to Effective Guest Blogging That Will Make Google Happy) written by Tony Wright, we can thank Roger Montti for sharing this tactic some five years ago.
The idea is this. Sure, you could get a guest post published on Search Engine Journal’s website – what a boon! What a link!
But what if you got SEJ’s founder, Loren Baker, to write something for publishing on your site? You would you capture a little of his audience – however briefly – and that would be great. But you could also expect him (and those around him, and those who love to quote him) to link back to your site at some point down the track.
6. Link Rot is Beautiful
Who do you give credit to for the broken link building tactic? Jon Cooper says it is one of his all-time favorite link building strategies. He deserves a mention since the heading above is a direct quote from his blog.
Several others have written about the tactic extensively. The idea seems to date back to 1997, when SEOs were scouring the web for broken outbound links and expired domains – essentially domain level links.
They would purchase these domains which retained some degree of authority and give them a home among some Private Ukrainian Blog Network.
Who would ever know? Who would ever find out?
Turns out we would all find out. The art of Private Blog Networking has been dying a slow death ever since. But the concept lives on and is now seen as a digital act of benevolence.
It’s simple. First, pick up any of the online tools that have been built for finding broken links. You start by looking for broken links that fit your niche and for which you have a corresponding piece of quality content that could replace the old (broken, non-existent) content.
So, for example, you are in the e-commerce cat toy game (good luck with that), and you find a cat training site that has a link to a great cat teaching aid (like a dead rat).
But the site went under a year ago without even a mention in the Washington Post.
You find the now-broken-link, and being a helpful person, you submit your own highly superior (and highly qualified) link to the site owner as a suitable replacement.
Voila! Youve made a friend, helped a site, and gained a juicy cat link!
I know there are hundreds of other link tactics and plenty of other experts I could mention. I chose these tactics because they are ethical, doable, and highly effective.
I like them because they aren’t an attempt at a quick fix but form part of (and depend on) a larger marketing strategy.
The world will always have its broken links, its celebrity experts, and its bait-takers. I really like these tactics because they are flexible, friendly, imaginative and are an enjoyable way of building up your business online.
- Related reading: SEJ’s Illustrated Guide to Link Building
Featured Image: Created by David Trounce (using Pixabay CC0 License and Canva), September, 2017.