Almost everyone has heard of writer’s block, but what about linking block? Almost every linkbuilder has been there. After 6 months of acquiring links for a client you find yourself hitting a wall.
You’ve checked every backlink for the top competitors’ site, exhausted entire categories in blog directories, utilized normal web directories, written contributing articles to UGC sites and blogger who you’ve established relationships with and even sent out press releases. You feel like every rock has been turned over already, but you still have quotas to fill and a set amount of links (or associated ranking) that has to be filled. How are you going to get those links?
Maybe try stretching the vertical.
What is stretching the vertical?
Stretching the vertical simply means to creatively acquire links from a vertical or category of sites that typically would not naturally link to your client’s site. And the importance of natural link building has been documented before. What you’re trying to do is open up your linking possibilities by expanding into new categories of sites to link to your client, thus stretching the vertical.
Why is it important?
It’s an effective tactic for linkbuilders that, when properly executed, can open up new linking opportunities and possibly rejuvenate your interest in a linkbuilding campaign you feel has hit a wall or has become redundant. It’s important to break out of this rut and seek quality links on authority sites in new categories.
Furthermore, it’s natural. Taking into account user demographics is a major part of vertical stretching as not only financial sites should link to a bank’s money market account page but also families writing about saving money, parents writing about setting up savings options for their kids’ college funds or seniors looking to reinvest their pension in a safer place than the stock market. All of these scenarios make perfect sense, and if you can pinpoint sites which usually do not cover these topics (thus linking to competitors) you can in fact gain a differentiation in linking amongst your competition, which will assist with your rankings.
How can I use it?
Go through your client’s site page by page and identify content on their site relevant to a category that you’re not trying to acquire links from. Maybe they have a page showing they’re environmentally conscious or they sell a product that is targeted at mothers. If you look hard enough there’s bound to be some opportunities. Just remember that you’re going into a vertical that most likely is unnatural to your client’s site, so anchor text selection is important. As long as the post is well written, it’s possible to make almost any anchor text seem natural. The key is making sure there is a valid connection between the subject of the post and the vertical of the blog.
Do you have any examples?
One of my favorite examples was stretching into fashion sites for a travel client. I found out that there’s a big fashion show in New York City, which happened to be one of the cities the client was looking to ranked for some of their key terms. So it was easy to reach out to fashion bloggers and ask them to write about the show and link to the client as a resource for finding places to stay or visit while in New York.
Another would when I found a page on a client’s site discussing their green policies and alternative printing of products on recycled paper with soy based inks. Naturally, I went after green/eco blogs as soon as I received client approval and had a good amount of success bringing in some diverse links (also read The Power of Ecofriendly Link Building).
The key is, sometimes you’ll find yourself in a jam, but by thinking outside of the box, your linking campaign can flourish.
Kevin Hess is an SEO & Linking Analyst for Search & Social, an SEO and Social Media Marketing Agency, where he focuses on implementing ideas and creativity into link acquisition and web presence strategies for client accounts.