Reports of the demise of SEO have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, SEO is alive and well in 2014 and will pretty much remain alive and well for the foreseeable future. That having been said, many of the old link building tactics that we all used to use have gone by the wayside as Google has improved and tweaked their algorithms.
Gone are the days for example when article directory links were hot stuff (though as I pointed out in my last blog post, article directories can still be a very valuable source of quality traffic). Ditto for link pages and many of the other strategies we all relied on in years past. However, a surprising number of good strategies from previous years still bear fruit even today. Here’s what you need to know:
EDU and GOV Links
I know it may seem pretty impossible to land these kinds of links and that’s why they’re in such high demand from SEO companies. They do in fact still carry a lot more link juice than ordinary links from other websites do. However, in spite of what you may think, it’s really not that difficult to land such links.
Consider for example government blogs, many of which allow you to comment and leave behind a link back to your website. Of course, you do need to write intelligent comments rather than the usual spam junk so the completely automated solutions probably won’t work. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get quality .GOV links.
.EDU links can often be had by visiting wiki pages on education sites, including those of elementary, junior high and high schools. You will again need to post something intelligent and useful if you want your link to stick but it’s not difficult or impossible to build these links. It just takes a real commitment to do the work instead of hitting a button and expecting junk links to get you everything you want.
Contests are still good sources of natural links. Not only do you have a legitimate reason to post links everywhere to your contest but you also have the added benefit of being able to use your contest to attract plenty of natural links. Contests are after all a classic form of link bait.
The key is to get the initial advertising right and to ensure that you give your customers a real reason to share a link (i.e. they get an extra entry into the contest every time a friend signs up for the contest. Some places even offer freebies to those who sign up a certain number of friends to the contest in addition to the additional entry).
Create a Scholarship
This doesn’t have to be a terribly expensive proposition. Your scholarship could be just a few hundred dollars. However, even a scholarship of a few hundred dollars can potentially attract hundreds or even thousands of quality links off of education websites where people go to search for money to pay for college.
Of course, the bigger your scholarship, the more natural links you’ll get f or it but also remember that you need to administer the scholarship so either make it into a random contest or be prepared to read lots of long essays about some kid’s aspirations for the future and why they are so deserving of the scholarship that you have on offer.
Student Information and Moving Sites
Speaking of college students, another great source of quality links (if it fits somehow within your niche) is to include a useful article on a site devoted to helping college students and those moving to a new home with their moves. In a great many cases, your business can fit this niche by the way (I mean after all, your local college student may well need a dentist, an insurance agent, a plumber, etc).
Be creative about this and again, offer some quality content which will remain sticky year after year and you’ll find plenty of great natural links coming in. You should also consider looking for sections of university websites which cater specifically to various minorities.
For example, if you offer handicapped access to your bricks and mortar business, make sure to target sites which provide that information. If you want to be gay friendly, that’s another great source of quality links. The boundaries are really just the limits of your imagination as there are such a wide variety of different kinds of minorities that your business could potentially cater to.
Even if all you need is someone on a very part time basis, job boards can be a great source of potential links because people are always searching them and you often need not pay anything to post a link there (job seekers often pay for access). Look especially for university job boards as these provide the added benefit of providing you with an EDU link as well as a job board link.
Non Profit Organizations
Do you give money to the local church or maybe to the Girl Scouts? If you don’t, you should consider doing so. Not only can you get a tax write off for whatever it is that you contribute to these organizations but they will often put you down on their websites as someone who sponsors their activities.
These kinds of links represent not only an excellent opportunity to get some good link juice out of the kind folks at Google but also a great PR option, to make your company look like the kind of place where people care about the community. Over all, these kinds of links can be a win-win for your company and should definitely be considered.
Yeah I know – Google doesn’t like when you outright buy links on websites and those who get caught doing it risk being delisted or at best being sent to the bottom of the rankings, never to be heard from ever again. However, what I’m talking about here is not sponsoring links in the sense of outright paying for them. Instead, you sponsor various events.
Here’s a good example: Visit your local university and get a list of all the clubs that exist on campus. Find clubs which have even a peripheral relationship to your company and then look into sponsoring an event for them. They’ll put a link onto their website acknowledging your company as the one who sponsored them and you can even take a tax deduction for your trouble.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. Your local city hall likely has hundreds of events happening throughout the year and they’re always going to be looking for corporate sponsors willing to help foot the bill for whatever it is that they’re doing for the citizens of the city. Added bonus – you get your name onto the advertising for the event and potentially increase your exposure in the community.
Conferences are another excellent opportunity to grab some sponsorship links because they can be related directly to whatever it is that your company does. You don’t even need to be a major sponsor in order to rank on the website of the conference. Often, simply having an exhibit booth at the conference is all that’s needed.
Podcasts and Videos
Finally, podcasts and videos remain a very popular method for drawing plenty of good quality links, even in 2014. These kinds of content are always going to be popular and have the added benefit of allowing you to showcase your knowledge of your specific industry. You don’t even need to create your own though – often, it’s simply a matter of finding someone else creating such content and offering to pay them in exchange for calling you their sponsor.