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Content is often closely tied to link building — justly so. Content often makes a link builder’s job much easier, providing added benefit and value to make another website link.
But there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all online marketing strategy. Is content on your site important? Absolutely. Is content marketing necessary to build links? Not always. There are in fact multiple tactics that help you acquire useful links that make sense without having to create fresh content.
This curated resource guide will help you build good links to your site without having to hire a team of content creators. Simply click on one of the tactics below to learn more.
Building links through online mentions is one of my favorite tactics — you won't find more organic, natural links.
The concept here is simple: a website has mentioned your website, URL, brand, product, resource, or a company figure. Ideally, these mentions should be fresh, but for a website updating or launching a new online marketing campaign older mentions should be considered as well.
Once you've found the mention all that’s left is outreach. Make sure you lead by expressing appreciation for the mention and then ask for a link. Let common sense be your guide for gauging the quality of the mention and likelihood of link conversion. Is the mention positive? Is the site active? Does the site have an engaged audience? Do you (or the client) have a previous relationship? Would the link make sense?
Outreach should always be polite. Focus on the relationship first, link second - if this website mentioned your brand/website/product, there's a reason. Express your gratitude, then ask if they’d mind linking. Simple, direct, and easy. Remember, you are filling the role of brand ambassador. Link building and relationship building are by no means mutually exclusive, especially when it comes to online mention link building.
Here are a few well-written guides to help you find and execute link building through online mentions:
Sussing out bad, broken, or improper links to your website is a simple tactic useful at the start of a new link building campaign - particularly if you’re working on an older site.
Websites change, pages move, content is updated, and links break. It’s a fact of life, especially for sites that have been around for a while.
This is an easy win that can help establish trust and confidence from the start of a campaign. So, before you go chasing big wins make sure that all the bases have been covered, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. Finding and fixing bad, broken, or improper links pointed at your site is very much a part of that.
A few handy guides that cover this process in depth:
Broken link building is the premier link building tactic for building strong links requiring zero content (although it can incorporate content, depending on implementation and execution).
At its core, the concept is to find broken links that pointed to sites/pages similar to your own, outreach to that site, and inform them of the dead link and showcase your own site/page as a fix.
Creatively, there are a variety of ways you can include dead links into your link building campaigns: you can find old or dead resources and create new content, then outreach to anyone linking to the old content and inform them of your new and superior content. Or when a competitor goes out of business you can find and capture links pointing to their now dead site. Lastly, you can scan a page you're planning to outreach to and use it any dead links a hook in the email for extra value.
Broken link building is extremely popular right now, and there have been quite a few helpful guides recently released that cover this tactic:
Many websites and companies have proprietary images and logos they use on their site. The web being what it is, these exclusive images and logos will inevitably end up on other websites. Instead of being upset and sending angry emails, the best thing to to do is think strategically.
Again, similar to finding online mentions, common sense should be your guide. You’ll want to ensure the website is worth securing a link from, that the logo/image is used in an appropriate way, etc.
Here are a few guides to help you track down and convert these images to links:
Local link building is, in my opinion, a severely under tapped market. Lately I’ve been researching local SERPs, and there’s a plethora of opportunity compared to national SERPs.
Google naturally promotes local businesses for many searches, even if they’re not strictly local terms. So, if your business or website has any chance at local clientele, local links should definitely be a consideration. Especially since you've likely already created valuable relationships locally that could result in stellar links.
Check out these guides for more information:
Help a Reporter Out (HARO), is exactly what it sounds like: a website dedicated to helping reporters get quotes and sources.
HARO will alert you when a journalist is looking for a quote in your field. You simply respond, providing an intelligent and insightful quote about your industry and perspective.
All marketers are aware of the power of press mentions and the resulting publicity, and that includes SEOs. HARO should be involved in every link building (or online marketing) campaign, especially if you’re working to establish authority within your industry.
Here are some guides that focus on using HARO in the pursuit of links:
Relevant niche directories are a natural consideration in a link building campaign. Link building should be the pursuit of good links that make sense, and niche directories certainly fit that bill.
The goal here shouldn't just be another link. You want to find useful niche directories with signs of life and build outposts on them, fleshing out a full company profile and building what we call an “online outpost”. This is where your website, brand, and company is fully represented on another site. Building these outposts help with online visibility, beyond netting just another link - although that certainly doesn't hurt.
Here are a few posts which deal with finding and acquiring links on niche directories:
Link building often works best when paired with another online marketing activity, whether that’s content creation, community building, authority building, etc.
Contests are certainly no exception to this. Contests are great for driving online engagement, social sharing, and of course creating fresh mentions. All of these can be used to acquire good links that make sense. If you’re not actively thinking about how to encourage and acquire appropriate links, you’re likely leaving marketing equity on the table.
Here are a few guides to help you pursue links in conjunction with a contest:
Before Google, links were used predominantly as a way to cite useful information, show credibility, or show confidence in another site. Reviews takes advantage of all three of these aspects: if you provide another website with a positive review, they'll typically link to your website to show their users who exactly is providing a positive review.
This means that not only will they naturally provide you with a link, but you’re seen as an authority worth citing a review from. So you’re simultaneously providing useful information, being cited as a credible source, and have a vote of confidence flowing both ways.
Reviews are a great tactic for building links, particularly for sites you've established a good relationship with.
Here are some useful & thoughtful posts to get you on your way:
Building a community takes tons of time, energy, and resources. But at its core all branding revolves around establishing a community for your brand, and many websites have come around to seeing the power of harnessing online community.
There are quite a few ways to encourage and promote links to your website if you have an active and engaged community. Check out a few here: