The Domain Expert's No-Nonsense Link Acquisition Guide

Dear webmasters, web developers and search engine optimization experts. These link building strategies will strike you as unorthodox at first, but you'll soon discover that their logic transcends mere link-building and pays homage back to a profession we all know and love: the "web developer."

When you think about it, we marketers, SEO's, domainers and front-line entrepreneurs are all in the "web development" business; each of us in the profession of designing, building and repairing virtual real estate. Our job is to uncover the hidden potential of an idea. At the top of our game, we always see the forest from the trees. And with hundreds of thousands of new pages being added to the web every day, there's room for all of us to play.

I'm not afraid to share these extraordinarily effective link building techniques with others in my profession because I know the vast majority of business owners, developers and SEO's are too lazy to do the work required to compete. Even when the stakes are high and a single high-quality link could work miracles for your business (or their clients business), it's a axiom of life that the road less traveled sees fewer footprints.

Now, let's get into the techniques:

  • The first three offer the promise of a ROI for the publisher.
  • The next two link building programs address obvious information gaps.
  • The next two are about insinuating yourself in the creation of a new enterprise or pool of talent
  • Eight and nine simply tangiblize the benefits of working with you in a very impact-ful, yet non-monetary way (i.e.: they are cost effective for you).

None of these link building methods are sleazy, underhanded or blackhat (Ok, the first one might be debatable from a Google standpoint). However, all of them adhere to the commonsense principals of business: i.e. Find a need and fill it–create value where there was none before.

  1. Simply Buy A Text Link - Google, as well as the digital community at large, tend to frown on this however I've yet to have it proved to me that search engines can precisely tell when such an such a behind-the-scenes exchange takes place. There are many ways to employ this strategy. I'll give you the easiest and most widely applicable move. Most local businesses who've dabbled in the SEO game have a links directory page with other local or semantically similar websites... and most of them are not getting paid for any of those links ;) Use with discretion.
  2. The Ad Agency Front - Inquiring about the purchase of a text link can come across as sleazy to the owner of a legitimate online information resource. Here's another way to frame what is essentially the same request in a way that appeals to their deep-rooted notions of acceptable commerce – and netting you a link. Ask the webmaster if they'd be willing to accept sponsored advertising. You're an internet advertising company and you'll find relevant sponsors for their resource, delivering them some ROI for all their hard work.
  3. Distributed Merchandising Model - Tested extensively by yours truly, I haven't found a better, more lucrative, fairer or below-the-radar link-building method anywhere. Realize this: online publishers with massive audiences leave tons of money on the table for want of something relevant to sell. This creates an opportunity for the savvy link-builder. Find independent online publishers &  bloggers in your subject area and offer to put them in business–whatever business you are in. They blog about wine? You can help them set up a whole storefront on their website or just promote a few products. Give them the html or offer to set it all up for them. There is a huge developer community who can produce such widgets. One deal could be all your business needs to double your profits because you're effectively creating an affiliate relationship and paying advertiser rates. If you don't at least try this, you're severely reneging on your role as a marketer. This is so much better than buying a text link... you get the link-juice plus more space to sell people on your product and company's value proposition.
  4. "Here, let me help out." - Offer to write an article for somebody else's ecommerce store, blog or resource website. You'll be introduced as a guest writer. Simply rewrite one of your old articles for a quick and painless free text link in the byline or resource box, which adds value to their web presence and yours. Careful not to pitch it like a transaction or quid pro quo exchange, but a condition of your helping them over which they have final editorial approval.
  5. "You're missing a section..." - Take strategy number 3 a step further. Few webmasters will turn down your offer if you can come up with an idea for a valuable new section to their website. Fewer still will refuse if you can contribute great content. Offer to create a value-added section on a resource website, which conveniently includes links to websites that you represent.
  6. Broker A Merger - This is a long-game technique. It may be a bit more complicated, but it can pay off in more than just increased links to you online presence. By brokering a merger between several companies or web properties you'll put yourself in the, perhaps unenviable, position of rerouting all that Google fuel to your brand-new, freshly-minted homefront.
  7. Orchestrate A Collaboration - Somewhat less intensive than brokering a corporate merger, create a mutually-beneficial event between two or more players in your market, with yourself conveniently positioned in the middle. You could co-sponsor an event, a cause, a fundraiser, a pr campaign, or any combination thereof. You could create a sponsored survey or report; pursue a mutual cause or
  8. The Free Lunch - Quid-pro-quo doesn't always have to involve money. Give them something other than money, but valuable, in return for your links. Or, if you're not feeling particularly inventive, you could literally just take them to lunch.
  9. Pay Their Bills - Offer to pay their hosting fees and related service costs. It'll cost you a lot less than buying monthly text links and be that much more agreeable when you shoulder their burden. Tell them the reason why you're offering to pay their hosting fees is you've found their resource so valuable, or admire their writing so much, that it seems a small price to pay to ensure they keep producing quality work.

Use your imagination and be patient when implementing these. There's still time to ride all these techniques out in the marketplace. If you're reading this and you understand the steps but have neither the time nor inclination to implement them yourself, give us a shout and I would be happy to take a look at your situation.