The 5 Best Links You Can Get in 2015

If you ask an SEO specialist what the most important factors are for better rankings, he will likely tell you that quality links are critical. I know. The algorithms are constantly changing and link building is a bear these days compared to even five years ago. But unfortunately, one of the best ways for Google to measure trust and popularity of a site and/or page is still its link profile. So how are going to get those links?

  • Directories and paid links? Think again.
  • Commenting in blog articles? This isn’t 2005.
  • Press releases via wire service? Here, I’d like you to meet Google Penguin.

There have been many link-building tactics that were once successful in the past which won’t help much today. Now, some might
even do more harm than good. Of course, we know producing quality content on-site is probably the best technique. It accumulates social shares, draws in relevant readers, and leads to naturally garnered links off-site. But let’s think outside of inbound content for a second. There are a number of strategic ways you can go about landing some great links to add to your backlink profile.

First, I want to make one thing clear: link building is not free. You’ll be hard-pressed to generate a solid list of great links without paying a dime. Even great content costs money, whether it’s in time, software, stock photo purchases, social advertising to push it further, or various other ways. And paying a fly-by-night SEO company from Bangkok for links is not a worthwhile investment either. Those links will surely come back to haunt you with the recent Google updates. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is, and you’re better off spending that money elsewhere.

Kristi Hines from SearchEngineJournal wrote a post several years ago on the different types of links one can work to obtain. She mentions that you first must establish a goal. Some goals include getting more referral traffic, improving reputation, and raising your rankings in the search engines. So if you are looking to specifically embark on a link building effort to raise your position in the SERPs, here’s some advice:

Link Type: Earned Media

What It Is and How to Get It:

Writing one press release a month and blasting it over a wire service is not a link building strategy. Instead, you need to hire a PR team (or use in-house talent) to build relationships with reporters, editors, writers, bloggers, and secure your online coverage by hand. This can be in the form of features, a company mention by way of having your CEO be a thought-leader on the topic, or you can offer to pen a guest content piece. Regardless of the form, you’ll likely be able to get a link back to your site from any true earned media piece. Think about topics that might be deemed newsworthy. A new product launch, a major c-suite hire, or a new partnership. Don’t discount local media either!

Tip: Pay for good PR! They’ll find good angles and pitch the most relevant media members to cover your company.

Link Type: Internships and Scholarships

What It Is and How to Get It:

It’s actually quite hard to get approval for a .edu website. Plus, they often feature many information-rich pages that draw in loads of links. Therefore, authority is strong and highly valued by search engines. Many schools are protective of their sites and don’t hand out links to anyone, so you have to give them a reason to link to you. Think about your company’s field and the schools that make the most sense to build a relationship with. Then, put together an annual scholarship to award to students who are serious about your field. Many schools will give you a chance to provide a write-up and a page on their site. Internships are great too. Speak to the career services office about taking on student interns regularly. The office should feature mini biographies of the companies where its students are often placed. (Don’t forget what this tactic will cost you in terms of company time for training and “babysitting.”)

Tip: Develop interpersonal relationships with relevant schools. Consider the ties that your employees already have.

Link Type: Event Participation/Sponsorships

What It Is and How to Get It:

There’s an art to sponsor relations, deciding on the best events to sponsor that make the most sense for your marketing strategy, and getting the most bang for your buck. Many companies blow through their sponsorship budget frivolously without enjoying all the perks. One thing that often gets overlooked in sponsor packages is the option to submit content to an event website. Listings are okay, but you want more. See if you can get a company biography or history submitted and posted, or perhaps seek permission to prepare a guest blog post for the event’s blog or online newsletter. Try to get a spot to speak at the event and have a description typed up for your topic. Work in your backlink(s) naturally and provide disclosure of your sponsorship. Beyond the link benefit, you may even get some extra attention on-site during the event or show.

Tip: Consider sponsoring the top tradeshows in your field or even local events, like a Chamber of Commerce Conference or local TEDx.

Link Type: Cause-Related Links

What It Is and How to Get It:

Most companies participate in at least one charity event during the year. Some companies put a lot of emphasis on it, conducting company-wide outings or full participation in events. Think about the ways you can take advantage of a non-profit’s .org website without being a mercenary. Create a unique sponsorship that requires web-based participation, such as a contest or a vote, to work in a company mention and link. Make a major donation and the non-profit will likely write-up an web-based thank-you. Or perhaps one of your employees has a direct affiliation to a cause (maybe they are a survivor) and they would be willing to write up a personal story to be featured on the non-profit’s website.

Tip: Be cautious that you aren’t coming across as “rah-rah, look at me” and instead try to naturally work in your link through a legitimate goodwill effort. 

Link Type: Relationship Linking

What It Is and How to Get It:

In business, we develop all sorts of relationships, such as with customers, vendors, agencies, partners, friends, etc. Why don’t you take advantage of those opportunities? Put together a list of all the companies that you’ve developed strong ties with over the years. Now begin reaching out to them – the more personal the better – and ask if you can mutually help each other with linking efforts. Don’t let this be a buried listing that tells Google it’s a bogus link. Make sure it looks legitimate. Perhaps they can build a section for their trusted partners with small company biography write-ups. Or, better yet, incorporate the link into a reputable testimonial or high quality case study. Now you’ll kill two birds with one stone and your partner will love you!

Tip: When reaching out, let them know the benefits of links. They’ll be more apt to give into the strategy if they can see what they will get out of it. 

Final Points

As you may have noticed, many of the above opportunities take some extra time, money, and effort. To get links online, think OFF-LINE. Many link opportunities can be created through some of these traditional marketing efforts. Maybe your company has opportunities that are readily available to you and you just haven’t noticed them as link prospects. Consider your current efforts and relationships and capitalize. If you are generating high quality links, you could start to see positive results in the SERPs with as few as 15 great new links, in as short of time as a few months. Good luck and happy link building!