Are you tired of building links the old school way? You know, the methods that require you to send out emails to thousands of webmasters begging for links? Don’t get me wrong: they still work well, but they get boring after a while.
So, in what other ways can you build links?
Well, there are a handful of creative strategies out there. Here are eleven fun ways you can build links without burning yourself out:
Strategy #1: April Fools’ Day
April Fools’ Day is coming up soon, so why don’t you leverage it to build links? You shouldn’t do an April Fools’ joke that’s obvious; instead, you should take a page out of TechCrunch’s book and follow their strategy.
They wrote a blog post on March 31st a few years ago on Richard Rosenblatt’s yacht, which was called “The AdSense”. A lot of people believed the post was real. Over 600 people tweeted about it, and some even linked to it.
The key to creating a good April Fools’ joke is to make it believable. Do something the day before April 1st, and go above and beyond to make it seem realstic. TechCrunch got Rosenblatt to record his voice talking about the post, which gave it credibility.
If you want your April Fools’ Day idea to build links, it has to be good. You can’t do something mediocre.
Strategy #2: Interview experts
One of the easiest ways to build links is to interview experts. If you email your prospects telling them how great they are and how much you want to interview them, chances are they won’t say no.
I myself get asked to do around four interviews each week, and I never say no. I’ve also emailed dozens of other people with requests for interviews, and it’s also been rare that they said no… this even worked when my blog wasn’t popular.
So, how do you build links when you interview an expert? Well, most experts have a website. So, once you interview them, you can ask them to share the interview with their readers or even tweet and post it on Facebook.
I’ve found that over 90% of the time, people will at least share the interview on Twitter and Facebook, and over 40% of the time, people will link to it from their website. One trick to boosting your link percentage chance is to find out if people have a press page before you ask them for an interview. If they have one, the chance of them linking to your interview is over 95%.
Strategy #3: Infographics
This is my favorite method of building links as I love making complex data easy to understand. Mint used this strategy heavily in their early days. They made complex financial data easy to understand through beautiful graphics.
So, what’s the key to generating links from your infographics? Well, you first need to have an embed code at the bottom of each infographic so people can link back. Secondly, you should follow the promotion strategies in this blog post.
Strategy #4: Quizzes
You may know Matt Inman as the guy behind the Oatmeal, but most of us SEOs know him as the master of quizzes. He got his start at SEOmoz and then moved into link creation through linkbait.
He ranked Mingle2 for all of the online dating terms by creating viral quizzes such as: how many 5 year olds can you take in a fight. He then took that same strategy and got a payday loan site ranked for all of the payday loan related keywords.
Matt currently has quizzes on The Oatmeal, and you should consider replicating the strategy if you want to build thousands of links. Just be careful as both his dating site and payday loan site got dinged by Google, but you shouldn’t have that problem if you follow these rules:
- The quiz needs to be related to your website – don’t try to create a quiz about fighting 5-year-olds if you run a dating website.
- Don’t use rich anchor text – at the end of each quiz is an embeddable badge that shows off your score. That badge shouldn’t contain rich anchor text. The anchor text should be the name of the quiz.
- Link to your quiz page – don’t have the badges link to your homepage; they should link back to the quiz.
Strategy #5: Personalized videos
Do you remember Elf Yourself? JibJab created that campaign for OfficeMax, and hundreds of thousands of people Elf’d themselves. They uploaded a picture of their faces, and JibJab created Elf videos for them.
At the end of the video, you were given a link that you could share with others, whether through email or blog post.
According to Open Site Explorer, Elf Yourself has over 10,000 links…Not too shabby for a Christmas promotional video.
If you can come up with a creative video concept that allows people to personalize the video, you can leverage it to build links. People love sharing funny personalized videos.
Strategy #6: Sponsor an event
One of the simplest ways to build links is to sponsor an event. Conference sites list each and every sponsor. In addition, in most cases, they link back to their sponsors.
This may not seem like a fun idea or creative link building strategy, but just think about this… you’ll be able to go to the conference.
If you work in the corporate world, you may get a bit tired of working in the office, so it will be nice for you to get a break by attending a conference. Plus, you’ll get a link out of it.
When getting links from conference sites, keep in mind that they may be taken down in the future, which means you will have to continue to sponsor the event each year. The cost can quickly add up if you are a small company, but it’s fun to go to conferences.
Strategy #7: Sponsor a non-profit
I love the non-profit world because it’s a great way for me to give back to the rest of the world. If you sponsor a non-profit, in many cases, you can get a link back.
When I used to own KISSinsights, we used to give away our product for free to non-profits, and they would link back to us. We came up with this concept when a non-profit asked us for a free account in exchange for press on their blog.
The beautiful part about this strategy is that it doesn’t require an exchange of cash. You can volunteer your time, your products or even services for a link. Whatever it may be, I’ve found that non-profits are open to almost anything as they don’t have a big spending budget.
Strategy #8: Take some pictures
There are always people looking for images, especially high quality stock photography images. I myself don’t mind paying for images, but it can get expensive really fast.
If you have a really good digital camera, such as an SLR, take high quality photos of anything related to your industry. Then pop them up on a page on your website and let people know that they are royalty-free images. Just make it a requirement for people to link back to you if they decide to use any of your images.
The cool part about this strategy is that you will get highly relevant links as people in your industry are most likely to use them.
Strategy #9: Scholarships
Ross Hudgens is an SEO who is known for building tons of high quality EDU links. He manages to accomplish it without spending much money… So, how does he do it?
Well, he creates scholarships related to his company. Once Ross creates the scholarship, e.g., in marketing, he notifies all colleges that have a marketing department about the scholarship. The end result is hundreds of EDU links as colleges will put it on their websites to notify students.
If you do it, it’d be a great way for you to give back and get links at the same time. For example, if you are a marketing agency, you could create a digital marketing scholarship, where you give one student $1,000 a year.
The one thing you have to do if you want to create a scholarship is to make it a “real one”. SEOs are trying to create them just to build links. Make sure it is legitimate. You have to give money away each year, and, if possible, help the winner of the scholarship. For example, if I were to create a marketing scholarship, I would give away money and even provide the winner with a paid internship.
Strategy #10: Get press
The side effect of getting press is that you’ll build more links to your website.
It’s rare that a site like Forbes would write about your company and then not link to it. That’s just not user-friendly, which is why reporters always link to you when they cover you or your company.
If you want to build links, why not get press for your business or your entrepreneurial success? Contact your local PR agency and see what they can do for you.
I myself just hire PR agencies like PRserve, who work on a pay-per-performance model. If they get you press, you pay. If not, you don’t pay a dime.
Strategy #11: Give away swag
Some people love free stuff. It doesn’t matter if it is expensive or cheap stuff; people love getting gifts. One person who talks about all the free stuff he gets is Shoemoney.
Every Friday he takes a picture of him wearing a new t-shirt that someone gave him. He then blogs about the shirt and links back to the company who gave him the shirt.
Get creative and start giving bloggers swag. From shirts to hats to anything else that is related to your brand, just start giving things away. Not only will bloggers love you, but they will also start blogging about your company and linking back to your website.
The possibilities of link building are endless. You can build links in many different ways; you just have to be creative. What I’ve learned over the years is the best link builders are the creative ones.
Just look at Matt Inman. Who would have thought that he would rank a site for online dating? Yet, he was able to do it in a matter of months because of how he built links.
All you have to do is to think outside the box as the list above is just scraping the surface. In what other creative ways are you building links?