13 Apr Link Building Tactics In 2011: Keeping It Fresh
I figured a good ol’ fashioned link building tips post was in order, and now that a quarter of the 2011 year has passed us by, it’s time I dropped some useful tips. I’ve stopped doing what I did when we first started, mainly because link spammers are out of control and there’s no point adding fodder to their link cannons. In doing this, I’ll also spare the hard working site owners having to deal with them dirty spammers and their techniques. I will, however, be dropping some direct link building tips here, but it’s not for everyone. What I have in mind is big brand, big business link building tips to help diversify and explore options for quality, legit links. You’ll also notice that this post is rather large. That is because this is meant to be more of a reference piece than it is anything else. If you get bored of building links whichever way you’ve been doing it, check back here for a fresh perspective and maybe an idea or two you haven’t yet exhausted.
For some reason a lot of people complain about how hard it is to acquire links. This is only true if your company doesn’t have much going on. The more you do as a company, the more you have to put on the Internet and the more people will see it. We’ll take a look at the different types of content your company can produce to acquire natural, quality links. We’ll also take a look at certain overlooked aspects of link building opportunities for big companies that don’t get capitalized upon. These methods will all add a boost to your link profile not only naturally, but they will also continue to build trust with the major search engines.
Big brands have so much room to play in the link building arena that focusing on a concrete strategy can be difficult. For the most part, your social media efforts and consumer interaction will lead to all sorts of natural links, so we won’t be going over that much. On the other hand, seeing as we’re a big brand marketing company, we’ve had the pleasure and opportunity of sniffing out all sorts of link building opportunities in the corporate world. There is no shortage of options for link building and if your company isn’t doing anything about it, perhaps you should seriously start to consider a strategy.
As exemplified by Google’s recent Panda update and an upcoming change to how links are viewed, the link building landscape is an ever changing one. There are also statements about an algorithm update, most notably stated by Matt Cutts, as well as a Google spam engineer over at hacker news. While they haven’t said much, it’s very obvious to our team and everybody in the SEO world what’s about to go down. Too many people are gaming anchor text links and this is Google’s biggest flaw. We still see companies from the largest to the smallest doing this with low quality methods such as over done content marketing and, of course, paid links. This is not a link building tactic built for longevity and, I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be here making money ten years from now. With every link you build, you have to think “will Google treat this well in ten years”?
Some of what I’m going to cover may not be the freshest, but the angles I’m bringing down the wire should be enough to impress and inspire. Lame ass link bandits won’t be able to abuse these tactics, but legit companies who can afford to do good quality content will thrive on them. Some of the other link building tips will also require you to be a large brand, so I’m comfortable dropping that knowledge here for you all. It’s not rocket science but here at Linkbuildr, we like to plan out quality strategies and take some time to do it the right way.
Reviving Your Press Release Strategy
When it comes to press releases, there’s not a whole lot of diversity from most brands we come across. While submitting your PR to the likes of PRWeb and other press release distributors can do wonders in regards to links and buzz, there still is more to be done. For those who follow our blog closely, you might find a few tidbits from our previous post on press release marketing, so I apologize for the slight regurgitation.
Mix up your sources folks! There are a lot of great wire services out there that have a different reach. This means the potential for great links is well…great! We have an upcoming study of a client of ours who submitted releases with PRWeb, Market Wire, PR.com, URLWire, 24-7 Press Releases and a few others, which had phenomenal results. Of course the key here is to actually have amazing news to tell the world. Great news is a must if you want to get it picked up on a site that holds some weight. We spread out each release over time and the news was completely different for each release. I wish we could showcase the client because it did wonders for them in regards to natural links from news sites, blog posts and finance sites.
One other thing we always do here is a backlink analysis on press releases done within your industry. This means picking 2-3 releases per major wire service and building a large excel sheet of the reach that they had. This will give you a good idea of the different news sources, blogs and Twitter accounts that are picking up the news in your area. This may make or break your decision on which service to use the most, first or at all!
Another benefit that I’ve mentioned is that a few of these press release sites have quality company directories. I know I’ve said on many occasions that directory link building is lame, but there are always exceptions to the rule, no? While they’re perhaps not the holy grail of links, sites like PR.com and 24-7PressRelease.com hold some good authority and standings with Google, so I’d definitely want a link in their business directories.
Take advantage of the social media options a lot of the bigger wire services have to offer. More quality content built in can only do good things for your release, especially if you want to keep it indexed in the long run. If you can have video done for the release, don’t hesitate! PRWeb even lets you embed a YouTube video, so that will go towards view count and better ranking for that video itself within Google. There are also a few social media specific wire services, like PitchEngine, a huge favorite here with us.
Public Company? Amazing Link Opportunity
Being a public company has more benefits than just raising money and keeping a company growing like a wild flower. There are also an abundance of link building opportunities that are only available to public companies. I’m sure those companies who have a smart in-house link builder will have capitalized on this, but you’d be surprised how many don’t even think of it. Getting links from stock market and finance sites can add a serious positive dent in your company’s link profile, and best of all, it’s all natural! While some of those links will come from being listed in certain exchanges, you might have to do some leg work to get your company profile into others. Let’s take a look at some examples of stock and finance sites that you could potentially get a juicy link from.
NYSE.com – If you’re on the New York Stock Exchange, chances are good your company will get a company listing on their site. Their website provides non spammy looking links amongst unique and quality company profiles. You just can’t go wrong if you can get listed here.
Yahoo Finance – This place goes with out saying, but I might as well mention it to get your link building mouth drooling. Not only does Yahoo Finance carry the latest financial news, it also has company profiles, which provide links and other great information for investors.
Yahoo Biz – Yet another financial service from Yahoo. It is essentially a company profile for each and every public business. You can check companies’ earnings announcements, analyst research reports, and company reports all from here. They have great indexing here and most big corporations are enjoying a nice phat link from them.
StockWatch.com – While this premium domain name practically describes itself, you’ll find it’s an authority site with a lot going on. This site is linking to just about all of our fortune 500 clients from their company profiles as well as each news story they pick up. Just hit up the footer on their site to start your journey into getting listed here…who knows, you might already be.
DailyFinance.com – Here’s another large financial and stock market website that reminds me a lot of the previous site. It has all the latest market news, updates and tickers as well as nicely laid out company profiles. This site is AOL owned and it’s no surprise as that company has done well to keep its web properties alive and kicking.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this form of obtaining links. If you have half a brain, like I like to think I do, you’ll know how to quickly sniff out dozens more high quality sites to work with. I always recommend whipping out your favorite backlink tool and going over some of the bigger companies listed. We’ve found more than 2 dozen finance sites to acquire links from for our clients using this method and it’s really a no brainer!
More Videos = More Links
Video marketing has so many benefits that getting links from it is just a minor part the entire expedition. When it comes to big brands, you should be doing video by now or you’re going to end up doing more harm than good. Video lets your customers see the people behind the brand, and not just another faceless corporation hawking products out to the consumer masses. Transparency is becoming a huge tool in social media marketing and, even if it’s not really fully transparent, consumers really like feeling like they’re a part of the company by living vicariously through your videos. While I may seem like a big hypocrite because you don’t see me in front of the camera often, I have been meaning to do some more videos, so look for that in the future.
While it can be pretty easy to get a YouTube video to rank within the top 10 results, rankings can not be your primary concern because videos can also score you some fantastic links. My recent post on big brand video marketing covered some of the methods you can utilize to get that link juice flowing in. Video contests work wonders, getting different departments within your company to video blog and incorporating video into press releases all result in positive marketing hype.
YouTube isn’t the only option out there. I’m a huge fan of using Vimeo for business not because they provide a quality link, but because it’s a different type of viewer. Vimeo tends to cater to the really tech savvy and the artsy, so make sure you plan your video for this site specifically. There are also other niche video/tube sites that you can research, so take a gander for what’s out there.
There’s not much I can really say other than providing awesome video content will net you links. You have to get your creative hats on and come up with something that brings out emotion in people. When Nike releases a new commercial/interview/sneak peek, it usually gets picked up by hundreds (if not thousands) of websites. The chances for links are better than good, although we are talking about one of the biggest shoe companies on the planet here. What I’m really trying to say is, if you’ve built your brand big enough, your fans will definitely throw you some love back.
.EDU/GOV Links The White Hat Way
Before I get into this section, we all can agree that .edu and .gov are not necessarily any better than a link from a .com. It’s all dependent upon the quality of the page as well as the site, and we all know there are tons of over link spammed .edu blogs or guest books out there. We also get approached by people from universities to sell our clients links because they’re either a corrupt administrator, or a student trying to earn some extra cash with his school blog. This is far from what I’m talking about here because I’m not looking to end up like Overstock.
If your company is looking to diversify its link portfolio within this realm, don’t do it just for the link. When we help clients acquire links from these sites we make sure we have a damn good reason. I think it’s also safe to say that, for quality reasons, you should only look to source these types of links from universities and government institutions in your local area. This is where your company is going to need some good content that is either already available, or you have created it to attract these types of links. Here are a couple of perfect examples:
.Edu Job Boards – A lot of universities have a job board for students and I have no problem acquiring a link this way. Companies hire all the time and how often do they hire students? This is a great place to attract some fresh young talent for that new position and put forth a company profile. You may also be asked to partake in their next job fair, and this *always* leads to more than a few links.
Guest Speaking – There are all sorts of ways to get the foot in the door at your local college/university, and guest speaking can lead to a number of great opportunities. For example, your social media marketing director delivers a speech to the marketing students. We’ve helped companies get everyone from their accountant to the CEO give a talk to only enriched the lives of the students, but further build their brand.
Scholarships – This is another method in which giving back to the economy can really benefit you in more ways than a good feeling. I’ll use Boeing as an example, as they have provided scholarships that have netted them links from the likes of House.gov, Nasa.gov, university resource sites and hundreds of .edu domains from all over North America.
Local Events – A lot of government sites have all sorts of linking opportunities, but they tend to be difficult to achieve. This is a good thing. Being a part of the community is something all big brands should be doing for the greater good. Putting on local events is a great way to involve the locals, spread some brand awareness and of course, the marketing benefits.
There are other unique opportunities within this vertical and they will no doubt take some time to sniff out and discover. Just heed my advice and only pursue them if you have the means to provide a legitimate and meaningful experience for both parties. Abusing these methods will get you caught and in trouble with the big G, no matter how large of a company you are.
Contests = #Winning
Contests are quite easy to pull off for not only the biggest brands, but even the mom and pop shops out there fighting for a piece of the pie. Everyone loves free stuff so it isn’t hard to get the word out and the attention can be achieved through so many sources. Contests should be planned out carefully from the product/prize that you are going to be giving away to how you’re going to go about creating that buzz. There is a lot of potential when using a contest as a marketing device, so make sure you know what you’re in for.
Contests are about brand awareness. With that being said, there are other good things that will come with the territory. What goodies am I talking about? Well of course you’re going to be getting links from all sorts of sources, but there are a lot of social media followers to be had. Let’s take a look at a few resources we like to implement here at Linkbuildr when we’re helping a client run a totally awesome contest.
Contest Sites – This one is a no-brainer! There are already dozens of sites out there waiting and willing to let the world know about your contest. We’ve had a lot of success with some of these sites and a lot of them provide a nice link with your contest pitch. While these links may not be link gold, they’re still going to add a nice bit of diversity to that company link profile. If you’re an avid reader of our blog, you may remember our post about the Twitter contest site Gwazu.
Forums – There are a lot of shopping/deal forums out there that have contest specific forums for announcements. Typically, companies are not allowed to post the contest themselves so you may have to rely on your user base. Another option is to be totally transparent and either email the webmaster, or sign up as a company rep and post in the forum. Gauge it accordingly and proceed with caution, that’s all I really have to say. You don’t want to end up making your company look bad, and the potential to do that is definitely there.
Utilizing Your Fan Base – If you already have a lot of Twitter and Facebook followers, why not reach out to them to help spread the good word. Better yet, make social participation a must for entry into the contest. This will of course lead to all sorts of new social followers, buzz and perhaps a link or two if you play your cards right.
Other options we’ve hacked into our clients contests have included tapping into their email list, select advertising via Adwords and emailing brand fan blogs to help out. Of course, this all depends on your company’s budget, so be selective in what you choose to do. We always recommend going for the gusto because you’ll get a lot of data on how a contest impacted your business and you’ll be able to use that knowledge for campaigns in the future. Future contests will be laser targeted and should run smoother since you’ve fine tuned your methods. Please remember to track the campaign extensively in your favorite analytics software.
Create Mobile Apps
The mobile market is hot right now and by now most of you should be providing, at the very least, a mobile version of your website. Since a lot of our clients are hotels and real estate agents, a mobile application is a must for their overall marketing plan. There are so many amazing benefits afforded by creating an app that it’s hard to ignore, especially if you’re competing for those golden search terms. The better, more creative, and more useful your app, the better it will represent your company and backlink profile. Having an app of sorts is also another great way to produce quality content for your customers. After all, this is what it’s all about, right?
When you make an app for a specific platform, say the iPhone or Android, you open up a lot of great link building opportunities as well. Creating great content will get you links; this is how Google wants you to do it and by golly we’re going to recommend it! There are so many awesome examples of how having, say an iPad app, has boosted business, so unfortunately, I’ll only be able to go into a few of them. What I can say though, is that you should always research how others are doing things and what kind of results are they getting. I can definitely say that a backlink analyzer will bring out some interesting linking opportunities depending on what route you take. Regardless, big brands should have both an iPhone/Pad app as well as an Android one… hell, even a Blackberry or Palm Pre if you have the budget.
So how does link building factor in? For the most part, it’s a natural process that, at the moment, can net you a lot of links. I’ll come back to the content is king mantra for a minute because making a boring/lame app won’t get you very far. Recreate your website’s most important functionality for the biggest uNF! Brainstorm with your team to come up with some unique and interesting features, perhaps something app sites will want to write about. Most importantly, make something that the users of your product would like, and you’ll have no problems attracting links and attention. Let’s get into a few ways you can net links, but keep in mind that there are a lot more techniques to dig into.
“iLinks”(iTunes Directory & Business Profiles) – This one is a given for anyone making a high quality iPhone/Pad/Pod application for their business. Apple does their app directory the way every directory should be done. A really great app write up that covers the functionality, all the company information including a nice link as well as integrated social media such as a video demonstration. Just take a look at the Hyatt’s iPad application page for a great example of doing this right.
App Blogs, Forums & Directories – A quick Google search will show you just how many quality app blogs, forums and directories are sitting out there just waiting for your listing. Submitting a press release about your app is a great way to get the ball rolling. A lot of these blogs will pick up the news and write about it. Then, it’ll usually hit a few of the forums and snowball from there. With any luck, it will explode into a plethora of links and social media mentions all over the web.
Android App Market – This phone OS has a booming scene and is a great rival to the whole Apple cult. In fact, Android OS has just claimed the largest market share in the smart phone realm, so if you’re doing an iPhone app, make sure you do an Android version as well to prevent backlash from the community. There are a large amount of dedicated blogs, forums and directories just for Android, so jump right in and dig them out. Sites like AndroidApps.com provide a nice link along with your quality app and if you can successfully infiltrate xda-developers, their community is among the most savvy and helpful. Just make sure you’re always giving something to the community and they will pay you back in spades. The same snowball effect seems to take place once you’re listed in these places as well. If you do some link research on other apps listed, you’ll see that the other blogs pick from the scraps here and usually link out as well.
BlackBerry Users – While I almost don’t need to mention this, I thought I would just in case. Blackberries are still everywhere and while they’re losing market share to Android, there’s still room for attracting the business crowd. The Blackberry OS has all the same blogs, forums and app directories to repeat the process with.
Having the apps for these devices just goes to further your branding power, and makes you look more established. Since ranking well with Google is all about trust, this goes a long way in setting you apart from the pack. Furthermore, you can use your app in contests, giveaways and for reviews. It couldn’t hurt to send out copies to some of them most influential bloggers in your vertical.
This is one our favorite things with which to help out companies. We really appreciate the risky marketing some brands are willing to attempt, and it almost always pays off big! Banned commercials will almost always get a million views on YouTube, as well as net the company tons of links and social media chatter.
It’s very true that sex sells, take for example this banned commercial from the headphone company Zippears. The video netted nearly a million views, tons of links, embeds, social chatter… pretty much the works! This is a pretty clever ad that has surely done them wonders. Another thing that struck me as really smart about this marketing campaign is that they’re not just going after general ear-buds, but ones that are “the best” for runners. As someone who runs myself, I’m likely to try and snag a pair of them now.
This, of course, is a method of advertising that takes a lot of time, skill and patience. Why? Well, you might not hit a home run within the first attempt and that can be quite discouraging. We recommend that you study other company’s attempts and try and pool together the reasons why they people had success or didn’t. Get creative and try something new, but make informed decisions based on research you’ve done.
Have a 1-800 Number?
While this is nothing top secret or uber 0day when it comes to link building, it’s something not many companies take an hour to sort out. If you have a 1-800 number, you can get links! While most people will find your 1-800 number once on your website, there are still a huge number of people who will just use a search engine. These 1-800 sites rank well and provide a decent listing page that usually includes a link. I like this because it just adds more diversity to you link profile. In addition, it isn’t something link spammers are nailing off because it requires you to actually have the number. Here are a couple of sites that you can put on your to-do list:
Inter800.com – This site looks like it’s still sitting in the 90’s, but it has a large database that Google has kept well indexed within its SERPs. Best of all, your listing is free to get and we’ve even seen other business databases scrape and include this information. I know that’s not the best link either, but it surely won’t do you any harm.
Internettollfree.com – This is another directory that looks a lot more up-to-date and provides a link from your company listing. The listing pages are a little content thin, so again it’s not much of an authority link but rather some padding for a unique feature your company has. What I don’t like about the site is the amount of articles that are clearly geared for search traffic…this may or may not be a good thing.
1800canada.ca – Here’s one for my fellow Canadians out there. It’s basically a PHPlD made for Canadian companies with a 1-800 number. While you have to pay a small fee to get listed ($2 CDN), the directory is well kept and has no junk or spam listed at all.
Coupon Marketing For Links
Using coupons for marketing purposes is hardly fresh, but it’s still a viable option in 2011. While there are the big players out there offering coupon listings and links to your company, there are now more niche coupon sites than ever. This is a great way to narrow down your target market and get a more quality link from a site within your industry. Coupon sites come in many forms as well, from custom built sites, to forums and general blogs. In this day and age, the more insane the coupon the better! We try and get our clients to offer a discount that will have them break even, or at times, lose some money (gasp!). The opportunity for links and brand awareness is sometimes worth the risk, and you should at least give it a try once!
The main reason to have a really good coupon is because a lot of the forums don’t allow companies to post themselves. I can see how this does lead to spam, but I see it as a flaw as well for all those legit companies with great discounts to offer the consumer. So, having a wicked deal will more than likely help get the consumer to post it up with their account, especially if someone asks for it. Other sites allow companies to post up legit deals, and some even provide company profiles along with it.
RetailMeNot.com – This is my favorite coupon/deal site as both a consumer and a marketer. They provide an excellent platform that allows people to find the coupons that are currently working. RetailMeNot also provides store profiles with a masked link back to your site. You’ll find that once your coupon hits this site, it will get picked up around the web. We’ve found that it will, for the most part, be from forums in which we see a good link right behind it.
SlickDeals.net – Home to one of the biggest deal community forums on the web, this is a great place to have a deal listed. This is a forum where users post the deals, so make sure your coupon is amazing and you get the word out in hopes of having someone list it here. If you take some time to understand the user base, you’ll see how it all works and how to increase your chances of getting listed.
You could literally hire someone to do coupon marketing for your company full time, so take the time to formulate a marketing strategy. Coupons are just great in general as you can sell off old stock, build hype for a new product and help the consumer out in these tough times. I also recommend reverse engineering other companies’ efforts in order to get the best out of this tactic.
How many blogs within your industry would absolutely love a chance to interview someone important from your company? Here’s a hint, it’s a lot! This works especially well for big brands as they have a lot of influence. With that being said, a new hot, up and coming brand can also net some juicy links and brand awareness just by reaching out. An interview almost always includes a link and if not, just give the blog owner a shout back and ask politely…doesn’t hurt! I love this method not because of the link, but because it puts more of a face on your company and increases transparency, which is something, your customer can relate to.
Want a great example? Social gaming guru and CEO of RockYou Lisa Marino recently did an interview with Inside Social Games. It’s a whopper of an interview rich with amazing content, data and a peak at what they are up to in 2011. There’s nothing spammy about this tactic and only leaders in the industry will get interviews of this caliber. I also love it for the fact that your competitors will have a hard time copying this tactic.
The interview doesn’t have to be with your CEO either. We’ve helped get companies’ SMM director interviewed on branding/marketing blogs, graphic designers doing corporate design interviews and even accountants offering niche advice on some of the best accounting blogs. There are endless opportunities, so do your best to identify your unique employees as well as the blogs out there to contact.
Have A Job Opening? Yes? Booyah!
Here’s another tactic that small, medium and large brands can throw into the mix. Companies hire people, that’s simple enough, but how else can your company benefit? There are a lot of authoritative job sites out there that provide links through company profiles, job listings and other interesting means. The job sites you’re going to want to be listed on are also clean and spam free so you know you’re doing something right if you play within the rules.
The cost of doing business can be a little steep for the smaller companies out there so you might be turned off by the larger sites because of the costs associated with finding someone to fill that job. Of all the big brands we’ve worked with, it was hard to find one that wasn’t hiring at least one position at any given time. I always find it worth the trouble, mainly because it adds to the link profile’s diversity, as well as usually bringing in a lot of ReTweets and other social media activity. The amount of job sites that scrape data is astronomical and yes, mostly downright spammy (especially post Panda). So let’s take a look at just a couple examples and I’ll leave the rest up to your team… that or you can hire us!
Monster.com – The monster of all job sites… and yes that pun was fully intended! Monster.com has a company profile directory for the players out there and this is where you’ll get a natural link if you use their services. This job site is of course not free but well worth it for the hiring process. You can’t use this as just a means of getting a link because it really is an incredible tool that ought to be utilized if you’re paying for it.
CareerBuilder.com – This is another site we’ve all probably used to hunt for jobs and employees and it is without a doubt second to none in the industry in terms of quality. They have excellent company profiles that are content rich with the ability to add video. Your company will also get all its latest jobs listed here so make sure your company has a great profile that stays indexed. The one major problem we’ve seen is that most companies will just copy and paste their “about us” from their homepage. Don’t do this because everybody hates duplicate content. Spend the five minutes and write something unique for the site and your link will pass more juice!
TweetMyJobs.com – There are a handful of Twitter based job sites and personally, I love TweetMyJobs. They have a really slick interface and by far the best feature is the geo-location map featured on your company page. This allows people to hunt for jobs easily within a certain location and see it visually. They will integrate into your profile your Tweets and a link to your company via image, which is another great diverse link to throw in the mix. Check out how Sony Jobs is doing things on TweetMyJobs.
Just Because You’re A Big Brand
There are dozens of unique ways to get a link, build brand buzz and whatever other good that comes with it. While I’m going to be dropping a few gems for you folks, I recommend you get a brainstorming session with your marketing department going. Take what you’ve learned here and try and figure out what other avenues of link building you can exploit because you’re a big company. I can tell you that we have a large stash of treasure that falls under this category, so there are definitely a lot of interesting roads to take. I’ll mention a few things we’ve already blogged about as well as a few new ones for you all. Always think like a link builder: if you’re doing something, anything, there’s a way to get a link for it.
CEO Interview Sites – I know I mentioned doing interviews a few paragraphs above, but these sites are a little more specific and I thought they fit better in this section. There are a good amount of sites that are dedicated to just interviewing successful CEO’s, and these are a cool way to get a unique link. One of my two favorites is CEOCFOInterviews.com, a highly active and great place to get featured. The other is a great resource provided by CenterNetworks. They interview all sorts of CEO’s from all sorts of different companies but with a concentration of tech companies.
Company Rating Sites – A lot of the big business magazines and blogs usually do lists of “the best companies to work for” and so forth. Fortune 500 companies have a great shot at being included in on these lists so take a good look at which companies are there and why. There are also specific sites that touch on this, such as GreatPlaceToWork.com; you can all guess what goes on there.
Company Directories – I’m not talking your usual PHPld site that listed just the company name and link, but rather a new breed of company/business related websites. The types of sites I’m talking about are fresh and 2.0 minded and they provide more than just a link. These sites leave no stone unturned and incorporate social media, networking and company news. These sites have been covered previously, so check out Company.com, Manta.com and of course CrunchBase.com. Make sure to provide a unique profile for each and avoid creating a low quality page.
Your Office & Location Based Apps/Sites – Just having an office is a link building opportunity, which can add more diversity to that link profile. Make sure you have your office listed with Foursquare, Gowalla and even Yelp. There are also local business directories as well as ones that are nationwide with which you can get a listing. Think Superpages, Local.com and Metrobot. There are dozens more to discover and it only takes a few Google queries to find a good list or two.
Using Twitter To Nab Links
Twitter can be a huge waste of time, or it can be an incredibly valuable tool for your business. I usually say that it depends on your industry. Twitter can be used to connect with your customer and with industry leaders including bloggers and other media personalities. Even just getting the nofollow profile link is worth some of the minor effort in most cases. Remember that a big part of having a natural link profile includes nofollow and that Google and Bing are definitely watching websites’ social media interaction. There are, however, a few ways to get followed links from Twitter; we’ll briefly cover them below:
Twitter Directories – These are on the low quality spectrum for the most part, but I don’t think it’s something that need be left out. These sites usually provide a link to your Twitter profile as well as your homepage, and if you’re lucky, your tweets are going to be followed links. A great example of this type of directory is Wefollow, and if you look at the Linkbuildr profile, you’ll see what I’m talking about. My other favorite site, which seems to send a decent amount of targeted followers is JustTweetIt.com.
Link Begging 2.0 – Ok I may not exactly mean that you should go around asking for links via DM. Instead, I’m proposing something slightly different. Building good quality links is all about making connections with the right people. Twitter is a direct line into people’s lives, and thus a great opportunity to make connections. How awesome would it be to get a direct message from your favorite brand? Pretty frakin awesome! We’ve used Twitter to get us interviews, links and ReTweets, and so should you.
Link Baiting – I’ve seen so many great examples of link bait via Twitter, whether it was on purpose or not. For example, I wrote about a Chrysler Twitter account dropping the f-bomb and how it made the news all over. Regardless of this looking bad, it still did a lot more marketing awesomeness than they were expecting. You don’t have to necessarily swear a bunch, but something cheeky and provocative could perhaps give your link profile a serious boost. As they say, there’s no such thing as bad press (there definitely is, you just have to be able to pass blame convincingly).
Sponsorships, Partners & Charities Oh My!
While this technique has also been covered by numerous SEO bloggers, I thought it still deserves a mention in the 2011 game plan. We recently worked with a very large corporation that did a lot of charity work, but we found a major problem with it; they forgot to get a link from over a 1/3 of the charities. This is all fine and dandy because they’re giving money to help, not get links. We just got our hands dirty by calling and emailing the no-linkers and managed to get half a dozen extra solid links. This also led to more Tweeting about the charity and talking about the next event.
Partners – From time to time we work with a company that has a lot of partners out in the world. Whether yours is a major retail store, an ecommerce shop or a related business, you’ll be able to find a few unique linking opportunities. If your company isn’t looking deep into your current connections, I suggest brewing a big pot of coffee and getting to brainstorming. The last time we helped a client out with this, we even did an email out to the entire staff just to make sure we had all our bases covered. Sure enough, the sales team knew of a handful of sites that presented plenty of opportunities for us to get some links.
Sponsorships – I’ve seen this tactic used in what would be considered black hat, so be careful in how you proceed here. Finding the right sponsorship opportunity should be carefully conducted and should relate to your business. I really like to see corporations sponsor university teams like Boeing does, as well as countless other corporations. I’m a big fan of open source projects not unlike Apache, Ubuntu, etc. and I love to see them get funding from companies using their software. This is a great way to get a couple links while supporting the free software that powers your business.
More & More Link Analysis
A lot of our link finds come from thousands of hours of link analysis, and there is a lot to learn from sniffing around on your competitors. There are a whole range of amazing tools that you can use to get the upper hand on your competition and you can bet we use a few of them. We recommend using Open Site Explorer, Link Diagnosis, Majestic SEO, Raven SEO Tools and (last but not least) Link Research Tools. If your marketing team isn’t doing this on a monthly basis, then you need to step it up. Not only can you discover new linking opportunities within your industry, you can keep tabs on what your competitors are doing. This is crucial when you’re competing for difficult search terms.
In closing, all I can really say now is to keep innovating, keep creating and keep building a positive brand image. I don’t want to see companies outsourcing blog commenting, crap content marketing and other forms of link building that won’t do wonders. Stay away from low quality link building and keep a fresh approach because you need to stay in business. I also tell clients to not keep all their eggs in one basket, and by that I mean don’t rely on Google alone. They can pull the plug within the hour on your revenue stream without any explanation. I know this for a fact because I’m a Google Webmaster Central contributor, and I see some horrific examples of just this happening on a weekly basis.
I need/crave/want your comments so let me know what you think about anything covered or forgotten here. If you have a wicked technique for big brands that you don’t mind sharing, return the favor and drop some knowledge on us. Last but not least, keep up to date with our company via our Twitter stream as well as our Facebook Page. We always drop tons of great link opportunities and knowledge on these two platforms and would love to interact with you there.