For better or worse, the number and quality of the links that are pointing towards your site are still one of the most important ranking signals.
While social signals, time spent on site, bounce rate and similar “on-page” signals are starting to play a bigger role in determining your position in search results, you simply can’t get to the first SERP for competitive keywords without engaging in some serious link building.
What is the best approach to link building?
Well, it would be unfair to point out a single link building method as each one has its advantages and disadvantages. Still, many would go straight to the most popular link building tactics like guest posting or broken-link building.
While they wouldn’t be completely wrong, there are some situations in which alternative link building tactics could be just as effective. And, let’s be honest, sometimes you just get bored doing the same thing over and over again and want to try something new.
But before we can present some unusual link building tactics you might want to try for yourself, let’s take a minute to briefly discuss what makes a certain link valuable.
The different levels of link quality
First things first, from a purely SEO standpoint, dofollow links are superior to their nofollow counterparts. Nofollow links can still be quite valuable, but they won’t help you that much if you’re only looking at improving your ranking.
Domain authority and organic traffic aside, there are other factors that affect the value you can get out of a link that is often overlooked by marketers as they usually do not have a huge impact on the SEO value of that link.
1. Backlink profile of a website that links to you: You probably do not want to be associated with too many sites Google thinks are spammy or spend time getting a link from a site that is one bad link away from getting a penalty.
2. Relevancy to your business: Proper link building is often associated with the rise in brand awareness and authority. That really isn’t the case if you build links and publish content on sites that are not visited by YOUR target audience.
3. “Quality” of the anchor text itself: Some marketers are only focused on getting links on specific anchor text. While having some exact-match anchor text is always welcomed, sometimes, you could be losing valuable referral traffic because you didn’t actually entice the readers to click on it to learn more by visiting your site.
Just a few things to keep in mind while you’re thinking about different link building tactics and starting your next link building campaign:
Exploring alternative link building tactics
If you are ready to take a break from writing guest posts and intros for your latest infographic, we’re going to describe a few alternative link building tactics and situations in which they could be worth trying out.
1. Reverse guest posting
This is probably the most unreliable method on this list. But you have to admit it sounds pretty cool.
The idea behind it is rather simple:
1. Reach out to influencers in your industry
2. Ask them to write a post for your blog
3. Publish their post
4. Hope that they will link to it in one of their future (guest) posts
Now you see why it is unreliable 🙂
While the idea is simple, the execution can be challenging.
Finding influencers is easy, offering them a big enough incentive to write a post for you is hard. Because of that, it really helps if you already have some authority in your niche, a recognizable brand, or you are ready to spend some $$. Otherwise, this might be a method you want to skip.
Now, if getting a few links isn’t the only thing on your mind, it is important to know that this method brings some nice perks. You get a chance to connect with an influencer in your industry and you get a decent exposure because that influencer shares the post he wrote for you with his network.
And if it is the right influencer, the social traffic you get just might end up being more valuable than those few links that will follow after.
2. Service/product review sites
The name of this method probably tells you everything you need to know.
While we cannot speak for everyone, we can say that we’ve had a few clients who didn’t think to reach out to sites that are doing reviews of their product/service. Businesses often focus on sites like Capterra or FitSmallBusiness and disregard the rest.
But there are plenty of other sites that are doing the same thing and would be glad to add you to their list. It is an easy way to get a few links.
While you probably won’t get a ton of referral traffic from them, you probably wouldn’t mind seeing a few decent links that are pointing towards your homepage.
And you never know, maybe your next client or customer will find you through one of those sites. After all, people who are in the phase of comparing their options are at the bottom of the sales funnel and only need one good nudge to make the purchase.
3. Find people in your niche who are doing round-ups
MarketingProfs published a statistic in 2015 that said we publish 2 million blog post each day! Up till today, that figure could’ve only increased.
With so many great posts around, people got the idea that they do not have to publish a new post every day, but that they could just make a round-up – select the best posts in a certain category and offer that to its readers as a list of resources.
Later on, that idea grew and round-ups today often refer to a post that discusses a certain topic by featuring thoughts from different industry experts.
Why wouldn’t YOU be that industry expert or why one of YOUR posts wouldn’t be featured in one of those round-ups.
Find the people that are doing round-ups on a fairly regular basis and let them know you are interested in helping them out and why you (or your content) deserves to be on their list. Maybe this even grows into a great partnership.
The downside of this link building tactic is that it often doesn’t work well in niches that are not saturated with content so this is maybe not for you if you are working in some technical niches like the maintenance industry, as you will spend a lot of time searching for round-ups that just might not exist.
On the flipside, businesses in marketing, health, business, fashion, and similar niches should not have these problems.
4. Create an interactive web tool or publish a research
This is technically not a link building tactic, but it does reflect something we strongly believe in: create content that can earn links by itself and you won’t need to spend so much time on building them.
Of course, some content types work much better than others for this purpose. As you can imagine, your run of the mill 1000-word post is unlikely to gather a lot of organic links.
This is a situation where your goal is to create content that is so valuable that people think it is worth linking to it after they find it for the first time.
Here are a few examples of content types that are most likely to get the job done:
* Interactive content (like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer)
* Ultimate guides (like this guide on target audience analysis)
* Huge lists (like this list of productivity resource)
* Statistics based on research (like this infographic with content marketing stats for 2018)
Whatever content you decide to create, you need to be aware that you will first need to build some links towards it and do a heavy initial promotion.
If you hope that this effort will end up earning you links in the future, people need to know that you have an excellent resource on your site. Only after you raise awareness about it and get some organic traffic flowing in, is when the content can start doing its magic.
5. Find unlinked brand mentions
Was your company acquired by a bigger organization? Were you a part of some research study or got recognized by a publication in the industry for a certain achievement? Maybe you held a presentation or help organize some local event?
If you were ever a part of something that was featured by a relevant publication or just something worth talking about, then you’ll want to try out this method.
The baseline idea of this link building tactic is as follows.
While you might be careful always to leave citations and link to relevant sources, that doesn’t mean everyone is doing their due diligence.
For instance, let’s imagine you held a presentation at some conference. The chances are that this conference was heavily promoted and that several publications published the name of the firms that will participate in this event. There is an even bigger chance that some of those publications didn’t bother to link to your website.
Here is a wild idea. You could contact them and politely ask to link to you. After all, it is reasonable to assume that the people reading their post might be interested in learning more about the presenters.
Now, for this method to be effective, you need to know how to find these opportunities. Here are a few different ways you can do that:
1. Set up Mention or Google Alerts for your brand name/CEO/Co-founders
2. Use tools like Screaming Frog to crawl the web
3. Use advanced search commands (like “brand name” –site:yourwebsite.com blog OR post)
Some of these link building tactics can work wonders for you, while others can be just a waste of your time.
The tricky thing about marketing is that you often can’t possibly know how well something will work until you give it a go. Even then, your success is often tied to your ability to execute.
So what can you do to minimize the chance of wasting your resources?
The answer is simple – do your groundwork. Research the tactics you want to use, look at some examples, objectively assess your resources and compare it to the things you’ve tried in the past.
You would be surprised how many times a well-executed mediocre link building strategy trumps poorly thought-out link building strategy based on a brilliant idea.