I’ll admit it. I am afraid to build links.
Why? Because link building is risky. Horribly risky.
You know it too. One slip, one wrong link built and your site can end on a helter skelter heading downwards, faster and faster until it crashes at the bottom of the Google pit.
OK, I exaggerate. But I am sure you know what I am talking about – aggressive link building is risky. Full stop.
The problem is, you need those links. One by one each new link is supposed to give a new chance for your site to become more visible in search.
Typical content like blog posts has long lost its ability to attract links at great numbers. There is too much of it out there to attract them.
Manual link building might do the trick but you have to be very careful. And work slow, probably too slow for it to make a difference.
Any form of automation is out too (of course).
What Else Is There To Do
The Slow Approach
By far the most commonly practiced in organizations, the Slow approach involves building links at a low volume while trying to stay under the Google’s radar. Things like relevancy and uniqueness play a massive role in those links, just as overall quality of links built.
Natural Brand Links
Your content on its own might not get you enough links. But coupled with a strong brand on the other hand, a brand that stands for something, one that users identify with, such content can generate more links. Not to mention social signals and non-search traffic.
Such links would usually come from places where the audience is either genuinely interested in your brand (reviews for instance) or offering or they are somewhat involved in the topic discussed (i.e. part of new development, joint-venture, new export plans etc.).
Getting those links involves building a strong relationship with the PR department as most of the time you would be piggy backing on their efforts.
We humans have a natural tendency to help one another. Most of the time however, we prefer to help those we know. Therefore building a network of connections, establishing friendships in the industry can result in more chances for your content or website to be amplified and linked to. Fact.
Much has been said about guest posting. The pros and cons, advantages and dangers and whatnot of the technique. If done right however, and by that I mean running a regular column in your industry publication or portal, rather than mass guest posting to some obscure sites, guest posting offers a chance to build your exposure while adding few links in the process.
The Mass Approach
In mass approach your aim is to gain as many links as possible fast yet by still following the idea of relevancy and quality. Mass approach requires a new approach to link building however. Instead of focusing on content that could generate some exposure, you focus on innitiatives that present your brand in a completely new environment thus increasing your chances of being noticed and, ulitmately, linked to.
Mass approach combines the elements of SEO strategy with PR. Creation of a technique or vehicle used to generate links is only part of the process. The second part is outreach to interested parties (journalists, bloggers, magazines, portals, influencers and whoever else you think could amplify your message helping you to generate links) to attract their attention.
Some of the best techniques in the mass approach include:
The word stunt might be putting may of you off, I understand. It is however a powerful technique to generate buzz and free publicity for your brand. Many large brands know the power of stunts to attract attention, to themselves or their innitiatives. Not all do it well (i.e. Kenneth Cole and Egyptian Revolution) but many try to bank on it. Then some brands discover it by chance (Rap Genius – just see how many links they got from being banned … for like 10 days or so).
Ryanair, our local cheap fares airline here in Ireland is famous for pulling PR stunts to attract media and public attention. Just check their ridiculous announcement to charge £1 to use onboard toilets, introduce a standing only plane and many more.
One could agree that Ryanair doesn’t need links. Sure. But it’s a strategy that brings them both the attention of major press outlets and links from bloggers. A double win if you ask me.
Building Apps or Other Tools
Apps (or any other useful tools) are an ideal vehicle to attract attention and links. Portents Viral post name generator, Hubspots Blog Post Generator and many others are some of the examples. In today’s, technology oriented world, apps and online tools, providing they are useful (and ideally unique) are a great way to catch the attention of the very people that can:
a. link to you
b. spread the information further, increasing your chances for more links
And that’s for a very simple reason. Apps are easy to produce, can be highly useful but also they are super easy to discuss – after all, the thing with technology is that it either works or it doesn’t. Try discussing design on the other hand…
Supporting a Cause Or an Initiative
Not everyone works in a technology oriented world. Your company might not be able to create an app or a tool, there might not be a need for one, simply. Supporting a cause however, can work in the same way. Just look at what Business Financial Services did with their Fantasy Football for Charity campaign (see, I linked to them too. I bet I am not the only one.) while supporting The Wounded Warrior Project (update: they are defending their title this year!).
Which method would you prefer, the slow or mass approach? Would you be able to do both, given the structure of your organization?
CC Photo by Dan Zen / Flickr