Let’s face it — link building is hard.
It’s challenging for businesses to create content that people are interested in linking to.
It’s difficult for businesses to find contacts at the right websites, who want to link to the content you’ve created.
And it’s tough to know which links are going to positively impact your SEO efforts versus those that will just sit like an overripe potato and start to smell funny.
Even so, there are still some “easy” link building tactics that work without having to put too much pressure on your inner PR flack.
These tactics are tried, tested, and true.
You’re missing out on link building opportunities if you don’t take advantage of these relatively low-effort tactics.
And while they may not boost your domain authority to the likes of Amazon.com, the benefit they provide outweighs the effort required to obtain these links.
Who Do You Know?
Google says that it is against their terms of service to provide anything of value in exchange for a link.
This policy is designed to keep the link graph clean, and it’s there to make sites earn links completely on merit as opposed to gaining links based on influence – compensated or otherwise.
In theory, if sites are linked to based solely on merit, the end results should be exactly what searchers are looking for.
In reality, humans decide where links are pointed.
Humans will point links to sites that they trust based upon personal relationships.
In many cases, people will place links to sites where they know someone over a site that they may feel is a little better or a little more relevant.
So it pays to mine the relationships that have been established within an organization.
Just like many aspects of life, it’s not always what you know but who you know.
The easiest way to build links is to take a long hard look at an organization’s friends and acquaintances.
Link building works best when the link being provided is relevant to the site it is pointing to.
If a company has been in business successfully for any length of time, it’s likely that someone in the company has done some networking with others related to the company.
It is the responsibility of the person in charge of link building to find those company networkers, sit down with them, and pick their brains on who they know.
In a larger organization, sending out frequent surveys or solicitations to employees, asking who they know, can bear significant fruit.
If you want to go a little grey hat, create a “bounty” for employees that provide warm leads for link building opportunities.
I have never read that it is against Google’s rules to pay your own employees for giving you tips on sites where they have relationships that might provide beneficial links.
It can be helpful to look at the LinkedIn profiles of company employees to see who they know.
Look for acquaintances that work for companies with strong web presences.
But don’t ignore the relevant potential link on a site with a smaller footprint.
Remember, relevance matters when it comes to links.
The more relevant a link is to your company, the more valuable it is – even if its value is mainly in the direct traffic it can provide.
Who Do You Do Business With?
Vendors are the low-hanging fruit of the link-building world.
Your vendors are relevant to your business.
You already have a relationship with your vendors, and they can provide you with links.
In fact, sometimes they can provide you high-quality, relevant links.
In my experience, it is best to approach vendors one-on-one when looking for links.
For instance, some vendors are not prone to providing you a link.
The larger the company, the less likely they are to provide links to their customers.
However, if your company is a well-known leader in the industry, many vendors will want to link to you just to show they do business with the leaders.
However, large enterprise companies don’t typically link to their customers.
But if you do business with them, you have an in.
You can combine your media relations style link-building efforts with the fact that you are a customer of a specific company.
Typically, salespeople don’t like to say no to requests as simple as a link – especially if they are trying to close the deal.
Even enterprise-level vendors are typically looking for relevant content for their own marketing efforts.
Find out who is in charge of the content for your vendor’s site and ask if you can write up a case study about your company’s experience with the vendor.
Of course, your case study should include links to your site.
Smaller vendors are typically easier to obtain links from.
In most cases, all you have to do to get a link from a vendor is ask them for it.
A best practice is to create wording for a link request from a vendor to give to all of the people responsible for purchasing.
Talk with your purchasing folks and make requesting a link standard in your vendor negotiations.
Give and You Shall Receive – Charity Link Building
Charitable giving by corporations is growing exponentially.
Cause-related marketing is booming, and companies are increasingly making donations to non-profits that align with their goals.
It feels good to do good.
And it makes business sense.
Most organizations fail to ask for a link from the charities that they support.
This is a mistake, especially for companies with well-known brands.
Charities want to advertise that a well-known company has donated to them. It gives the organization legitimacy.
But many fail to even think about links when looking at their charitable donations.
Of course, you should never give just to gain a link.
But if you are going to give, it doesn’t hurt to ask if the charity will provide a link back to your company, advertising that you are a supporter of the charity.
Also, if you are having a hard time choosing which charity to donate to as a company, you can use the organization’s website metrics to help you choose.
For example, if there are two veteran organizations that you are contemplating donating to, you could pick the one with the best backlink profile.
All things being equal, you’ll get value out of the link.
Link building is hard, but there are still ways to build acceptable, high-quality relevant links that don’t require a full media relations strategy.
Link building is where SEO professionals can be creative.
Embrace your creativity.