When it comes to link building, the web is full of spammy directories and meaningless websites where you can dump your URL. There are plenty of opportunities if you're looking for quantity over quality. But if you want to build quality links in unexpected places, you've got to think outside the box. Sometimes, the best backlinks might even happen on accident!
We talked with a few experts to find out how they've gotten quality backlinks using some nontraditional methods.
Stand out from the crowd
One of our clients, Juniper Communities, runs senior living communities. I talked to their founder, Lynn Katzmann, about search and links and how Google works. She listened and understood everything, and then went back to making waves in her industry. She took a group of her residents to Burning Man.
Yes, when you bring a group of octogenarians to an art party in the desert, people notice, people write and people link. And in this case, they linked a lot. Lynn got more SEO value from that single act that anything else I could have taught her. How? She made news.
-Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media
It's all about who you know
I "earned" a link on Right Wing News, which is exactly what it sounds like (a right-wing news site!) and it was from being childhood friends with the owner of the site. We continue to get a lot of traffic from it and considering how different my views are from my friend, it was really an honor to have him mention me. Most of the time when we get links it's from contributing to something or being interviewed or writing articles so it was just lovely to get a link simply because I'm friends with someone who wanted to link to me for no reason whatsoever.
-Julie Joyce, Link Fish Media
Talk to everyone
A little over a month ago, I published an article at Forbes analyzing the differences between Clinton and Trump's usage of online marketing tactics within their campaigns. Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by a journalist at USAToday.com who wanted to interview me for a similar story he was writing. He wrote the story and published it, citing my business name but not linking to it. I emailed him afterwards and asked him politely to include a link on my business name back to my business website. He obliged, and now I've got a homepage link from USAToday.com. Awesome!
-Jayson DeMers, Audience Bloom
Ads are effective
I use paid social ads on Facebook and Twitter to drive my link building efforts. Just target either custom audiences (specific people) or specific job titles (bloggers, journalists, etc.) or company names to ensure that the people you want to get links from actually see the content you're hoping to get a link to. When done correctly, this is surprisingly effective and cheap.
-Larry Kim, WordStream
Get outside help
One of the simplest but most effective means I've seen of scoring a high quality backlink has been engaging a publicist to help you promote your website. Generally their contacts consist of newspapers and, as such, any write-up that you get in the paper is usually syndicated on their websites as well. These are often very old and trusted domains and often send a lot of traffic as a bonus.
-Ramsay Taplin, Blog Tyrant
Find a niche
The best way for me today in 2016, is to aim to be exceptional in some way, be noteworthy, have something that people think is funny, cute, clever, useful, worth having, sharing etc and then put it out to a network of people who might well like it. if it's a good thing, it'll likely fly everytime, if it's boring and yadda yadda it won't. Shortcuts can work, but can also bite one on the arse which isn't always the best of things to have happen.
A site that I know, built a fish community creator.
It's a tool that enables tropical fish tank enthusiasts to calculate their tank volume and fish stocking values. Which fish get on with which fish and which ones should be kept apart, which people can save and add and subtract to. It's attracted quite a few natural unsolicited links, some from folk who hate it (fish enthusiasts can be snobs too) and from folk who love it. Forums, blogs and social media platforms talk about it regular and it has an established set of regular users who use it for guidance.
-Rob Watts, YackYack
Ask for interns
I went to a job fair at a local university, said I was looking of writing interns. They wrote amazing articles and I gave them permission to re-publish their work on their University sites they had all created. I was kind enough to even allow them to republish the articles in University student newspapers, etc. The articles turned out to be gold for strong .edu links back to our site. They also helped the students so it was a win win all around!
-John Rampton, johnrampton.com
I did this newsjacking tactic for a client several years ago, and got them several backlinks. The client was in a fintech niche here in Canada. At the time, the government was making some noises about ending production of the anachronistic penny. Serious? Whimsical? Who could tell. But we launched a campaign to convince the federal government to end production of the penny.
- Brief to the government
- Letter to the Minister of Finance
- News release
- Blog Post.
- Partnering with an Australian fintech company (because Australia was ahead of Canada on this)
The result was several links to the site.
-David Leonhardt, SEO-Writer
Do you have any creative link building stories to add? Let us know in the comments!