Unless you yourself are running a fan page yourself, (in which case, the following advice may work in reverse), the odds are good that you can get yourself some extra backlinks by simply looking for websites which are related to your niche and which are run by fans.
So for example, if you were running a website which promotes Nike brand sneakers, you may well be able to get a link back to your site from a fan site devoted to Nike sneakers. Got a hotel in New York City? There are thousands of New York City fan sites which will be happy to list you for free. Of course, depending on your niche, you may need to get somewhat creative.
Now, to be fair, this isn’t really my idea. I found a post about this over at SEOMoz and liked what they had to say. However, I did some thinking about how they put it and came up with some of my own twists on their idea. Here’s my take on this:
Step 1: Find the Fan Sites
This is the crucial first step. Whatever product you happen to sell, go ahead and do a search on Google for that product (again, this is really for product sites, not informational sites).
If your product is relatively unknown (for example, you sell a boutique brand of sneakers which competes with Nike), you may not find fan sites for your product. However, you may be able to find sites which match your niche. Just be a bit creative about the kind of site you are willing to go for and you should be okay with finding someone interested in promoting you as well.
Step 2: Offer Them a Free Sample
This is where I begin to differ from SEOMoz. They have some great ideas for getting a fan site to notice you, but I prefer the direct approach. There’s nothing wrong with contacting the place and offering them a free sample of your product for review. Make sure that in their review they mention that the product was given to them courtesy of [insert your site name/URL here].
While there are certainly other ways to get these guys to notice you, I find that the direct approach is always the best one.
Step 3: Interview the Owner
Here’s another idea that the folks at SEOMoz didn’t use. I figure that if someone is devoted enough to a particular subject to want to set up a fan site for a product or company (the example they give is the IKEA Ohio fan site), then they ought to be someone interesting to interview for your company blog.
Why did they create a fan site about this product? What was it that motivated them to do it (I mean really, a fan website for IKEA in Ohio? That’s gotta be an interesting interview right there for anyone doing anything having to do with flat pack products).
Step 4: Ask to Guest Blog
Again, this is aimed at the smaller guys who may not get noticed. Obviously, if you’re running the website for the Plaza hotel in New York, you don’t need to do a guest blog post for a New York City fan site. On the other hand, if you run a little motel 6 out in Jamaica, Queens (a borough of New York City) that no one has ever heard of, offering to guest blog for a big New York fan site could be a good deal.
Step 5: Engage With Them
Really, this is a culmination of what I said in the first four “steps” (it should be idea really). Ultimately, all the ideas I presented here and all the ideas the folks at SEOMoz presented revolve around one thing: engaging with the fan sites.
These guys are passionate about your products and or niche. Talk to them. Friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and maybe even call them on the phone and you’re a shoe in to get plenty of free backlinks from fan sites.