21 Advanced Link Building Strategies

by Jason Acidre on February 27, 2011 · 92 comments · Search


Strategies for SEO constantly evolve, as SEOs around the globe battle it out each day to reach the top of search engine result pages in their respective industries. The competitiveness of today’s marketing over the Internet has progressed and has come a long way, in which traditional methodologies are getting pummeled more and more by ingeniously formulated strategies. It’s evident that creativity is the new weapon of choice and the only possible silver bullet by most seasoned marketers when it comes to online marketing.Advanced Link Building

How do they do it? It’s quite simple, they think outside of the box, and then they take necessary actions to make it work. Here are some of today’s most creative, advanced and effective ways to building high quality backlinks:

Link bait

This is the first one on my list, because it has proven its worth many times and it’s my personal favorite as well. Link bait is a technique that focuses on content creation that is well-researched and implemented, which should result to an extremely interesting, educational or entertaining content. It may come in various forms such as infographics, video or a blog entry that must contain real value in order to attract people or other sites to link to it. This method is doable in 3 simple steps:

  • Do a thorough research of your chosen topic and search for other sites which you think will be interested to share your content.
  • Write or create the content. The key to a successful link bait is the intent to educate. It doesn’t necessarily need to be too controversial; you’ll just have to make it relevant and to focus with your goal – to exceed your readers’ expectations.
  • Once the content is live, start reaching out to your prospects (through email or social media sites preferably) to request if they’ll be interested to share your content, knowing that it might be enjoyed by their readers/followers as well.  It is also important that you promote your content wherever and whenever it’s possible, may it be through relevant topics you find on forums, Q&A sites and sharing it with your own social media or bookmarking network.

Advantage: It generates more natural links and can dramatically increase your site’s traffic and visibility. Link bait materials also get good keyword rankings on SERPs more often than not, seeing as real people and other sites link to it using the post or page’s title as anchor text.

Widget Bait

Widget creation or sponsoring one is also a great way to establish high end and sitewide external links, especially if the widget you’ve created or sponsored is exceptionally useful. Being creative to conceptualize one is pretty tough these days, since a lot of new site gadgets are being launched every month. But what mostly works in enticing people to get your application highly depends on its use or the benefit they’ll have from it. It could be in a form of networked blogs, rankings of blogs, or simply constructive tools that help in improving a blog.

Advantage: Capable of providing hundreds of external links from a single site, given that it’s commonly placed on the sidebar, and can definitely pass through massive juice of Pagerank.

Link magnetism

It’s a modern principle for link building, wherein the campaign focuses on triggering emotions and needs from targeted audience by simply giving incentives to be able to acquire links. As cited by SEOmoz’s founder Rand Fishkin, the best example of a link magnet is Vimeo, in which the site is able to generate 3 external links from just utilizing there tools or by embedding videos from them to your site.

How to become a link magnet? Dig deeper and be creative enough to know more from your industry and seek for what your market desperately needs, then develop the solution by giving it as a reward to those who’ll be linking to you. Your brand’s identity plays a big role in being a magnet, because it’s the simplest way to draw attention, take advantage of it as well.

Advantage: Be useful to your community and grab thousands of almost automated but natural links with less effort exerted.

Curation

Rounding up posts and contents from other related sites with topics that complement yours has been a solid way in not only generating traffic and links, but also in building relationships, capturing influential people across your industry’s attention and in improving readership in your site/blog. The best thing about this method besides its numerous benefits is that it also expands your opportunities in getting highly relevant links from authority sites and on influential people’s social media platforms, knowing that they’ll be more than happy to share your curated post to their own social networks.

Curation is a method that can easily attract links, and this absolutely works on any niche. Kristi Hines’ Fetching Friday, Gary Lawood’s Sunday Post Round Up, Lisa Barone’s Weekend Coffee Links and Wiep’s Link Building this Month are some of the most recognized curated type of posts in this field.

Advantage: As I’ve said, it can attract links, increase your subscribers, build trust through readership and personal recommendation, build relationships and the best part – it’s easy to write round up posts.

Dead link building

The method focuses on looking up related authority sites and searching for broken/dead links on their pages that are related to your site or to any of your content. Then you’ll simply present your content as a replacement for the defunct link. It’s a time consuming tactic, but definitely worth it once it succeeds. The thing is, this method has a higher success rate compared to the regular link placement requests sent through email outreach – as explained by Napoleon Suarez of Seer Interactive on his post here – given that the link request is offering two good reasons to trust you (notifying them of the dead link and offering a replacement for that link). I’ve seen this tactic done before, as I do read a lot, and as from what I can remember, Scott Jones of Selfmademinds first exposed this technique on a quick post last November.

Searching for dead links can be a tough task, but you can use the Linkchecker plugin for firefox that can help you determine a link’s status through color scheme. The steps to applying this link building strategy are simple:

  • Find possible pages that might have broken links related to your niche, commonly links and resources pages. You can use Google search by including “resources” or “links” on your targeted keywords upon making the query.
  • Scan the page for broken links using the Linkchecker plugin.
  • Contact the webmaster to inform him about the dead link on the page. It’s important to engage first before you request for the link replacement.
  • Lastly is to politely suggest your content as an alternative for the link.

Advantage: Higher chances of getting in-content and resource links, which can boost your keyword rankings, particularly if the page is from a .edu or .gov site.

Themes sponsorship and CSS galleries for link building

Encrypted footer links on free themes for WordPress or Joomla can generate thousands of links with your desired keyword used as anchor text, given that hundreds of new blogs are being launched every day. Sponsoring a theme is not that expensive as well, that’s why it certainly is a good investment in starting a massive link building campaign. But you also have to make sure that the website theme/template will somehow relate to your site’s niche, to make most built links relevant.  Where can you find theme builders that are looking for sponsors? Search on related forums such as Digitalpoint and Webmasterforum.

Submitting your site to CSS galleries is also a good way to build links – and there are loads of high quality galleries out there. They usually have high PR, high traffic and allow dofollow attributed links. Links built through these galleries can be very relevant, since you can include a description of your site on their pages.

Advantage: You can effortlessly build massive links through free themes, while you can sculpt Pagerank and absorb traffic through CSS galleries. The downside for themes sponsorship is if the links will be permanent or if they can last long, but of course, if you have sponsored a killer theme, I don’t think that your links will die any time soon.

Ebook bait

This method is the best way to acquire links from your tough competitors. You simply make a very resourceful, unbiased and of high quality ebook (works best for ecommerce sites in making price lists and product definitions). You can choose to hide links pointing to your site or product pages within the content or not, depends on how valuable the content is, since your competitors wouldn’t want to fetch the content if it sees you as its source.

After making the content, submit the ebook to various PDF directories, and it will be seen by your competitors naturally. The trick behind with not making your link visible on the PDF is for them to have your ebook as a resource and perhaps upload it on their site, seeing as the PDF was clearly made to just offer information and not to market a brand/site. I don’t think it’s black, because you own the content and you’ve shared it through directories and not to your competitors directly.

Advantage: Greater chances of acquiring links from your top competitors and/or .gov and .edu sites without them knowing it and it’s not blackhat! Plus, you get links from PDF directories as well.

Relationship building

Building relationships around your industry/niche is the certainly one of the most effective ways in obtaining high quality links. The best thing about this strategy is that it’s very expandable and progressive, in which your business is more likely to evolve along the process. Building relevant relationships or networking with other sites that have the same interests as you is very constructive in terms of link building, brand development, client prospecting as well as in enhancing the services or products you have, given that you are also able to extend the reach of your business through learning more about the trade and in absorbing their followers.

Engaging with like-minded people is usually done through constant and relevant interaction, could be profession or personal related. The best ways to reach out to your prospects are through:

  • Email outreach
  • Phonecall or instant messaging
  • Social media (Twitter and Facebook)
  • Blog commenting
  • Guest blogging

Advantage: Can lead to collaborative work and can certainly produce high quality links through thematic link exchanges, in-content mentions, reviews, referrals, social media mentions (retweets, FB share, stumbleupon, etc…), which means higher search rankings and more relevant traffic.

Testimonials

Making or requesting to submit testimonials to products and/or services that you have acquired and truly believe in is a unique way to build quality and highly trusted backlinks. Whether the product or the service you have availed is related to your business or not, it would still qualify as an arsenal for your site’s link profile, given that these types of pages (testimonials, feedbacks and success stories) are fully optimized to highlight trust to their own customers.

Advantage: Having links from testimonial pages, specifically from authority sites, can pass through Pagerank juice (they allow dofollow links mostly), and sometimes they also allow your targeted keywords to be used as anchor texts, particularly if they were the one who requested for your testimony.

Guest publishing

To start off, there are three types of Guest publishing that can help you generate more natural links.

  • Posting guest blogs on other sites. It allows you to acquire links from relevant sites, but it’s best to target those that have higher Pagerank than yours and have high traffic.

Benefits: Passes through Pagerank to your site, improves your keyword rankings, exposure for your brand and you get to absorb relevant traffic from the linking site.

  • Inviting influential bloggers in your niche to write guest posts on your site.

Benefits: Guest bloggers usually promote their guest content on their own networks and mostly gives a link on their own blog, which will enable you to captivate their followers and you are getting more chances of having their followers to link to that post as well. You also get an extra and expert content to share to your existing readers/followers.

  • User-generated blog section, if your site is a membership site – like SEOmoz’s Youmoz and Affilorama’s Yo Blog.

Benefits: Gives your site more fresh content from various bloggers and of course, it’s impossible for them to not promote their contribution through their own networks, which clearly means more natural links to your site. Basically, you are letting your members build links to your site and promote it virally, making the task semi-automated.

Contests

Prizes attract links. Being smart to include the link building scheme in the mechanics and the criteria of the contest is the best way to generate natural links from this strategy. Guest blogging contest is the most common theme for a competition, since it can surely bring lots of benefits to the hosting site such as:

  • Natural links from the contestants as they promote their entry for the contest, which leads to more traffic.
  • Being able to build relationships with both the participants as well as the contest’s sponsors.
  • Having more exceptional content to be added on your site.
  • Win-win-win situation, you get the traffic and links, your sponsors and contestants gets more exposure for their brand.
  • More user activity on your site’s end, which can uplift the trust factor and visibility of your business.

Reverse Engineering your competitors and link partners

Replicating your competitors’ links is one of the basic concepts of advanced link building. Besides getting a roadmap to where the finish line is; it’s also a channel in which you gain the knowledge of knowing where there weaknesses are, what methods you are missing in your campaign, people you haven’t and obviously need to engage with and how you can win over them.

Getting links where your competitors are linking from is very vital in order to exceed them, because these are half of the overall reason why they are on top. This task doesn’t necessary require technical skills to be applied; you just need to have the right tools and the appropriate approach. You can use tools such as Yahoo Site Explorer and Open Site Explorer in tracking your competitor’s links and seeing the metrics of their off-page optimization campaign – both tools are free to access by the way.

Most marketers also tend to skip on seeking link opportunities from their linking partners and their competitors’ linking partners as well, and that’s one big problem because they are goldmines and most of the time they have the links that your competitors have missed to spot.

Advantage: Generally, you’ll get highly relevant links from scanning your competitors’ territory and mainly supplements the rankings of the competed keyword.

Link building with social signals

As to what both Google and Bing have recently revealed on an interview about social signals on Facebook and Twitter, it’s getting more evident on how social media can massively affect search results, having Retweets as a new link building method. The 2 major search engines are now looking on social media sites in determining the authority of a newly published page if it’s worth the placement on their search results’ top pages. They can now weigh the value of a link from Twitter and Facebook, which highly depends on the authority of the source or through the social influence of the user who’ve shared the link.

Numbers also plays a role in this game, as the more your page is getting talked about on Social channels is the more it gets the attention of those two search engines, which means higher chances of getting higher search engine placements for fresh results. Leveraging your content through Twitter and Facebook will solely base on its quality and the quality of your followers. Having your content shared by influential or authoritative people on social networks is still the best possible way to break through this new strategy, it’s definitely the best time to start building relationships with them.

Advantage:  You can expect a much faster and higher results for your content’s SERP rankings.

Random Link Wheel

This is perhaps one of the oldest strategies in link building, and I can also say that it’s one of the most time consuming tasks out there. Link wheel is a content-based strategy that often uses web 2.0 properties (Squidoo, Hubpages, Weebly, Blogger, WordPress.com, etc…), article directories or other support websites to fully optimize the main site’s targeted keyword. This strategy works best with highly competitive keywords.

The basic principle of link wheel is to create web pages with unique and relevant content that will link to the main site, whereas these web pages will also link with each other in a circular pattern, or practically, a page will only link to the next one and to the main site. But today, most experts suggest of randomly linking the created pages, as seen on the image below.

Randomized Link Wheel

Photo credits: Alexandru

Advantage: Even it requires tedious tasks to be performed; Link wheel has proven its effectiveness, particularly in improving rankings for very competitive keywords in a short span of time.

Advanced content trap strategy

The term was coined by Free Traffic System, though I’ve made some slight revisions to empower the tactic. Basically, it’s an information-based strategy that make use of content driven techniques such as article submission, guest blog posting and web 2.0 content. The Content Trap strategy primarily focuses on targeting longtail keywords related to your site’s theme that have very low competition yet have substantial monthly search count (at least 100 global monthly search queries).

Once you’ve gathered your longtails, it is then time to create articles that are strictly about the targeted keywords, which should be included on the title of the article, URL, mentioned on the first paragraph, used as anchor text directing to the main site, and most importantly, the body copy should accurately relate to the subject/title. Articles can then be submitted to top article directories such as Ezinearticles.com, Web 2.0 properties like Squidoo and Hubpages, or through guest blog posting to related and authority sites. It’s also best to promote those articles as they go live.

You can choose to promote those articles through activity based methods such as posting on relevant topics on forum sites, answering questions on Q&A sites, submitting to social bookmarking sites, and syndicating the articles through RSS feed directories.

Advantage: It lets your site rank for longtail keywords with very low competition that can highly convert traffic. Establishing your brand as an expert through these channels can also drastically increase relevant and highly targeted traffic.  See more of this strategy here.

Trackbacks

Building links through trackbacks is often underestimated by most marketers today, and they’re missing out on larger opportunities big time. What I really like about link building through trackbacks is that it’s capable of letting you acquire highly relevant links from respected and authority blogs around your industry, including .edu and .gov blogs.

Trackbacks can be done by citing pages or blog posts you intend to obtain links from on your blog or through curated posts. It’s also important that you first research on your prospected pages, if they allow trackbacks or if the trackbacks are dofollow or nofollow.

Advantage: Citing informative external contents can benefit your site in many ways, wherein you get to build links with your targeted keyword as anchor text (since trackbacks mostly display the title of your content as anchor text), grab influential people’s attention and build valuable relationships along the way.

Link building through Google Alerts

Google Alerts is one of the easiest strategies to employ, given that this service from Google practically gives you hints and opportunities for possible link acquisition through your email. And the best part about this is that in Google’s point of view, they see those suggested pages as very relevant to your targeted terms, which will more likely make you rank higher for your targeted keywords.

You can also track and monitor your brand mentions through Google Alerts, and these mentions are opportunities in strengthening your link building campaign, in which you can request for the page where you have been mentioned to include a link on that particular mention (if it’s not hyperlinked) or suggest to use your targeted keywords instead.

Advantage: Very relevant links as suggested by the Big G, meaning higher rankings.

Deep linking and linking to sitemap

Links pointing to deep pages on your site, especially with ecommerce sites’ product pages, is one of the most important key to a successful link building campaign. There are many ways that you can do to promote and build links to your other pages such as:

  • Press release submission
  • Guest blog posting
  • Article marketing
  • Sponsored product reviews
  • Forums, social bookmarking and Q&A sites

While deep linking to your blog posts can be easily done through:

  • RSS Feed directories (Mybloglog, Technorati, Feedage, etc…)
  • Promotion through related forum topics and Q&A sites
  • Blog commenting on CommentLuv enabled blogs
  • Submitting or sharing to social bookmarking and social media sites
  • Sending link requests to be listed as a resource to related content or curated posts

Linking to your sitemap is also a good way to ensure that all your pages are getting crawled and indexed by search engines. You can simply do this in a non-spammy way through external profile pages.

Advantage: Higher SERP rankings for your other important and landing pages and leads to more targeted traffic. It also helps in improving the Pagerank juice flow on your site and faster crawl rates that helps in page indexation.

Content conversion

Making converted copies of your high quality articles can also be a good way to get extra relevant inbound links and here’s how:

  • Create exceptional articles and submit them to top article directories such as Ezinearticles.com, Goarticles.com, Articlesbase.com, Amazines.com and Ideamarketers.com.
  • Convert your articles to PDF and submit to various PDF directories like Scribd and Docstoc.
  • Convert your articles to podcast and submit to podcast directories such as Podcastdirectory and NPR.
  • Convert your articles to slides or Powerpoint presentation and submit to online slide hosting sites like Slideshare.
  • Convert your articles to video and upload to video sharing websites like Youtube, Veoh, Vimeo, and many more.
  • Lastly, you can promote all of your converted content by collecting their RSS feeds and creating an RSSMix, which will combine all your feeds together into one new RSS feed. Once you’ve gathered all your feeds into one, you can then submit the RSSmix to several RSS feed directories.

Advantage:  Can certainly generate you highly relevant and of high quality links instantly from authority sites.

Getting listed to Top “XXX” Sites in your industry

Aiming high by means of being listed as one of the top sites in your industry or country can deliberately increase your chances of getting more links, and getting links from top listing pages can also benefit your site in many ways, particularly with passing Pagerank, trust and getting higher SERP rankings as well. If your site is in the marketing industry, then this list might be of help to you:

For other industries, it’s not that tough to find link opportunities from similar sites mentioned above. There are other blog ranking sites that have more diverse categories with their listings such as Technorati and Wikio. You can also do a manual search via Google:

  • Top 100 “your keyword” sites
  • Top “your country ” sites

Creating your own blog rankings related to your niche (if your industry has none) can also attract more natural links to your site, wherein you can choose to require those who want to be listed to have reciprocal links to your site using widget or to just let the blog ranking page acquire its own links along the process, since listed sites will link to it and promote it as expected – for pride.

Advantage: These pages are very linkable and usually have high Pageranks. Aiming for the top spots from these pages will also allow your site/blog to improve its overall performance inadvertently or without you noticing its improvements.

Link building and PR sculpting with Profiles and special mentions

Personal or business profiles and special mentions are the types of links that’s quite difficult for your competitors to replicate, especially if those pages are strong in terms of its Pagerank and authority. Promoting or building links to your profiles (such as your Google Profile, About.me, etc…) and/or pages from high authority sites where your brand was mentioned –with links of course (interviews, reviews, news articles, cited as source or reference by authority sites with high PR) – will certainly take you a long way, knowing that those pages will pass through Pagerank as well as trust and will serve as a heavy vote for your targeted keywords as these pages improve. Ways to build links to these pages:

  • Interlinking special mentions and your important profile pages through your other profiles on social media sites, social bookmarking sites and through forum signatures.
  • Using your profile pages as URL when commenting on blogs. The juice that you’ll be able to get from other blogs are passed through your profile pages and eventually passed through your main site, so you’re still getting value from those blog comments, especially when crawlers reach your profile page with your targeted keywords used as anchor text.
  • Inclusion of links to strong pages that have specially mentioned your site on your author bio when you do guest posts on other blogs.

Advantage: These are the links that will drive your competitors mad once these pages have obtained higher Pagerank. For this will pass through high amount of Pagerank to your homepage and will certainly have major effect on the rankings of your targeted keywords.

If you find this entry useful, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter.

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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