We all got the memo that great content is important. Google’s Panda update made that abundantly clear. But let’s be honest: backlinks are still the name of the game when it comes to ranking in the SERPs. Hunting down quality links from websites with the right online street cred will not only help you rank; each link also has the potential to deliver waves of extra traffic to your website as long as the link exists.
Not too shabby.
Sounds great in theory, but in practice? It’s a bit harder. Just about every SEO on the planet is on the bandwagon right alongside you, on the prowl for the almighty backlink. That makes competition a whole heck of a lot tougher – regardless of your niche. Webmasters far and wide are inundated with guest post requests, link purchase queries, and emails that are generally begging for a shout-out. Many website owners have already learned to tune out the begging, considering it nothing more than white noise clogging their inboxes on a daily basis.
That’s precisely the reason you should stop wasting your time on what is essentially the email version of cold-calling. Instead, try scoring links from lesser-known sources around the Web. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
#1 – Publishing Positive Reviews
Is there a product or service you use for your website or blog? Is it something you’re legitimately in love with? Then sing its praises by way of a detailed review published on your site.
There’s a couple of caveats to address with this method, however. First, make sure you’re reviewing a product or service that has small- to mid-sized popularity. Although it’s possible you’ll get a mention (and a link) for promoting one of the big guys, you’re much more likely to get a reciprocal link from a smaller vendor.
Write a spectacular, highly detailed review and email the company directly with a link to your post. Make sure to Tweet the post to your followers and mention your tweet in your email as well. Although this technique doesn’t guarantee a backlink, depending on the company, your chances of scoring a public plug and a link back to your post are pretty high nonetheless.
#2 – Hooking Up with a University
Shout out to Gregory Ciotti for this super-sweet linkbuilding technique. It’s awesome because we’re talking about securing a coveted “dofollow” backlink from an .edu domain.
You can replicate his success by tracking down a student organization or a department at a lesser-known university in your local area that relates to your website’s niche. You’ll need to have a working knowledge of website setup, and you can do this easily by setting up a simple WordPress blog for the organization or department in question.
Ensuring the organization you choose is related to your niche is important – it will make the possible recipient much more inclined to accept your offer. Side note: recently, Google has started discounting the value of links included in theme footers and widgets, so you can adapt Ciotti’s technique by requesting an article or blog post including your link in exchange for your services instead.
#3 – Start a Movement
This idea comes courtesy of a personal finance blogger that started a wildly successful blog movement earlier this year. The blogger, Jeff Rose, mobilized over 140 personal finance bloggers by declaring a national “Roth IRA Movement” day.
After speaking at a college event, Rose was dismayed to learn exactly how many young people had no clue what a Roth IRA was – much less how to use one to supplement their retirement savings portfolio. To remedy this, he called on his fellow bloggers to each post about Roth IRAs on one pre-determined day, and the response was unprecedented.
Rose’s idea helped bring attention to a very worthy cause, but a great fringe benefit for Rose was the influx of backlinks to his blog – many from established, high-PageRank blogs and respected news sources. You can capitalize on this idea by choosing a cause close to your heart in your own niche.
Call upon your peers to take part in your movement by posting their personal take on the matter on their websites and blogs on a specific day. Make sure to get the word out far and wide about the movement long before the big day arrives, and reach out to other bloggers personally to take part in the special cause. If it’s something people in your niche deeply care about, many will be more than happy to participate.
#4 – Stalking Your Competition
Use a tool to get the lowdown on the backlink profile of your key competitors – especially those that have site stats comparable to your own. Scour the data to hunt down backlink sources you may have never thought of, and compile a list of the best possible websites to approach.
Try a mixed-bag method when you use this approach. Remember, today it’s all about relationship building, so if you send a mass email with each site owner’s name pasted in and ask to submit a guest post, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Remember, these website owners are all part of the same niche, and many already know one another, which means they talk.
Instead, feature some of the site owners in a linkbait post, such as a “best of” list, for example. Reach out to others simply to introduce yourself and establish a relationship without asking for anything. Comment consistently on some of the blogs in the list and get yourself known around the community. The goal is to use the list as a roadmap to build relationships – not as a list of webmasters to query about guest posting.
#5 – Fundraising
You can try this method on its own, or you can couple it with #3 above. If the cause you champion includes a group that needs financial assistance in some way, try starting a fundraiser to raise awareness for your cause. If you do this, make sure to use a service like PayPal to track donations and keep everything above-board. This will also reassure people that their money is going to the right place.
Write an impassioned post about the cause and your fundraiser. Spread it far and wide – tweet it, email industry leaders about it, reach out to your fellow bloggers. Ask them to link to your post in order to share the info with as many people as possible. When you’re giving selflessly, you’ll be surprised by the positive feedback and cooperation you’ll receive. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of knowing you’re doing something good to help your cause.
Do you have any little-known backlink-procuring strategies of your own to share? Let us know your favorite method in the comments below!
About the author: Nell Terry is a tech news junkie, fledgling Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She thrives on social media, web design, and uncovering the truth about all the newest marketing fads that pop up all over the ‘net. Find out more about Nell by visiting her online portfolio at Content by Nell.