Look at any comprehensive list of link building techniques and you'll find something along the lines of get links from vendors or as your customer for a link.
The trick, of course, is in how you frame that question. You certainly dont want to just shoot off an Email asking for a link on the home page from a customer or even a vendor or service provider.
So how can you go about getting the link?
Build Your List of Likely Linkers
The first step, like with any link building project, is to create a list of link prospects.
What you want to do is identify both the vendors you work with who you could obtain a link from, as well as the customers who would be likely to link at you.
There are a few good ways to do this, depending on the size and set up within your company:
- Ask department heads to help you compile a list of vendors
- Ask accounts payable for a list of vendors you pay out
- Ask your client services department for a list of happy brand evangelists theyre aware of
- Browse the companys testimonials page and case studies for examples of possible targets
- Work with whomever distributes Email to customers to see if you can send out a call for testimonials/case studies, and then add that same list to your link prospect roster.
- Just ask for a link in an order confirmation Email
You should be able to get contact information from the appropriate party above and/or your companys internal customer database, so the next step is determining who to reach out to when.
Prioritize Link Outreach
Next, depending on the volume of possible vendors and customers you can reach out to, you want to try to identify the best options based on the authority of their sites. A good way to do this is to append some SEO data to the list of contacts youve built.
There are a number of ways to go about this. We use BuzzStream for link building to augment simple lists like this with additional data points such as:
- Additional contact info (social profiles such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)
- Inbound Links
- Page Rank
- Domain Age
But you could also gather similar data by hand or use the free SEO Moz API to get some of it into Google Docs.
Now you can play with this additional data and find the most authoritative options for asking for a link.
How to Ask for the Link
The first step is to figure out where on their site you actually want a link from, and why they would link to you.
For instance testimonials are always great. With vendors and service providers you can obviously just offer them a testimonial for their project and ask for a link, but even with customers with whom you or your team have a relationship you can offer a testimonial to the effect of Joe has been amazing to work with the whole team at Widget Co. are true professionals who are incredibly dedicated to their craft.
The key to remember here is that youre not just begging for a link; you're incentivizing the linker. They have a good reason to link to you (they get a testimonial or quote). The best way to find these opportunities is to spend a few minutes checking out the site to identify what the best places to get a link from would be. Here are some ideas:
- Guest Posts If they have an authoritative blog, they may accept guest posts. This can be particularly powerful if they don't seem to have a lot of guest posts from other bloggers, but have a trusted, authoritative blog, because this might be a link you can get that your competitors can't.
- An Interview with Someone at Your Company If this is something that can be a fit for their blog, you might be able to give them some solid content while also getting links to point back to your site.
- Interview Someone from Their Company Similarly, you might interview someone from their company for your blog, and ask them to mention it in their news section and link back. This is good for them because it gets them exposure on your blog and positions them as an expert.
- Get on a Partners Page Many sites have lists of partners this is a fairly easy one for them to add to their site it actually doesnt add a ton of value for them, but because youre a natural fit and because its such an easy add for them, you likely won't really need any incentive built in to your request.
- Get on a Resources List If you can find a resources section you might get them to add your product or some white papers, articles, or free tools you have on your site.
- Get on a Blogroll If they have a blogroll and you have a blog, this may be a great it as well.
- Give them an Award or Spotlight on Your Blog Similar to interviewing someone from their company, you can give them a reason to brag in their news section, and get repaid with a link.
By doing a little bit of leg work, you can come to the vendor or customer with a specific suggestion of where to put your link and why itll be beneficial, which makes it easier for them to help you out and add the link.
These links can be a great means of getting lots of high quality links with anchor text you request that your competitors might not have (after all: they probably dont work with all the same companies and obviously dont have all the same customers).