4 Ways to Link Build Without Asking for a Link

by Mandy Boyle December 6th, 2011 

ask

Link building is one of the most difficult tasks in SEO. It takes a huge investment of time, effort, and strategy in order to be successful. Anyone else who tells you otherwise is full of it :)

For most SEOs, the most challenging part of link building is actually making the ask for a link. We've all done or seen pitch emails to bloggers where we introduce ourselves, state our business, and ask for a link in 5 lines or less. There are pros and cons to this system, but we'll save that for another post.

To help you in your link building endeavors, I think it's important to remember that there are other methods of link building out there besides the traditional blogger relations-style pitch.

For example, here are four ways for you to link build without ever having to ask for a link:

1. Help A Reporter

One of my favorite ways of link building without making the ask is to participate in a service called Help a Reporter Out (HARO).

HARO is a place where reporters can connect with you, the source, to gain valuable information for their website, magazine, radio, TV, or newspaper. Essentially, you submit yourself as someone who can be quoted or used as a resource in a piece.

The great thing about this service is that it's free and more often than not, it results in a link back to your site when you get quoted. As a bonus, many of these links come from authoritative sites and news outlets, so it's not out of reach for you to gain a link (and visibility) on outlets such as The New York Times, ABC, or Business Week.

Take a minute and sign up on their source center. Each day, you'll get lists of email queries from journalists where you can pick and choose which ones you'll want to respond to. It's great way to build both links and street cred.

2. Syndicate A Press Release

Press releases can be forgotten darlings in SEO. Most of us forget about the value they offer. Not only do they deliver some SEO goodness (most wire services make releases indexable so that they can be added to search engines and news portals like Google News), but they also allow for you to build upon your site's brand and overall reputation. A well-written press release can mean coverage in a major media outlet – and an authoritative link.

BONUS TIP: Take it further by making the ask. I know, I know. This post is supposed to be about ways to get links without having to ask for them. I'm still holding true to that – but I'm giving you a way to take this press coverage business further.

If you have something that is remarkable about your site – TRULY remarkable – then it's your job to let people know about it. Create a pitch for journalists and bloggers to gain coverage – not links. The link will likely come with the deal, but the goal here is to get a writer's attention so that they would be willing to write about you. Make it short, sweet, and compelling.

Here are some resources to help you make your first media pitch:

3. Make It With Media

When we hear the words link bait content, we normally don't think about media. Most of us jump headfirst into the world of SEO copywriting when we think about creating content that's link worthy. Don't forget about photos, videos, and graphics they're all great examples of link bait when executed correctly. Here are a few ways you can do it right:

  • Create an B2B link building machine by creating an infographic that represents key industry data in a unique way, You can get tons of examples on Daily Infographic.
  • Want to add dimension to an ecommerce site? Grab a video camera (they're cheap and readily accessible) and start creating visual reviews of your products. Share the video on your own YouTube channel as well as across your content touch points (social media, blog, item pages, etc.). This can help customers find you AND make a purchase decision.
  • If you have an active community around your site, harness that potential by creating a cool badge or graphic that other site owners/bloggers can display. Have the badge link back to your site and voila! You've got a way to attract others to your community while building links.

The key here is to make your media accessible. If you have media to share, let us know about it! Make it easy to find and easy to share. Accessible and sharable means more link love.

4. Hold A Contest

Contests are also great link bait and depending on your prize, you can easily earn enough links to make it worth the time and cost. The key is to spend some time getting your contest out to the right audience and picking a prize that's worthwhile. For some, that means a $20 water bottle. For others, it's a $500+ tablet computer. It all depends on who you're trying to reach.

A quick note on contest criteria: make sure your contest is easy to understand, easy to enter, and easy to share. The more complicated the contest is, the more difficult it is for it to gain traction. To make it super sharable, you may want to consider hosting your contest on Facebook (in accordance with their promotion guidelines, of course), on your blog, or in another space where sharing buttons are easily accessible.

Once you've figured out your contest criteria, promote it on your social media channels. Submit it to social bookmarking sites. Write a short pitch to a giveaway or contest blogger (they're out there and they are usually very generous with giving a mention and a link). Send an email blast to your customers. Do whatever you can to get the word out about your contest. The links will follow naturally.

More Ways to Link Build

These are just some tactics. Believe me, if you were to look at some of these posts, you could find a variety of tactics that could be right for your site:

Not every link building tactic will work for every site, so I'm curious: which ones work for you and why? Share your best link building ideas in the comments. Who knows? Maybe your contribution will result in a link back to your site…or at least some quality discussion.

Mandy Boyle

Mandy Boyle gets her daily fix of copywriting as the SEO Team Leader at Solid Cactus. She is also a published freelance writer , co-founder of NEPA BlogCon and was probably a baker in another life. Cupcakes, anyone?

Mandy Boyle

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10 Responses to “4 Ways to Link Build Without Asking for a Link”

  1. Frank Bowes says:

    Hi Mandy,
    I had not heard of any of these methods, besides asking and press releases. I'm thinking I could certainly make the competition work, however, I don't know if I'm enough of an authority on anything to become a reporter's resource. I'll give it a go anyway; it's free so it can't do any harm.

    • Mandy says:

      The great thing about HARO is that the story queries are so diverse. You don't necessarily have to be an expert to contribute :)

  2. Nice little guide.

    Very usefull.
    Help a repporter is a new way for me, and I will try it for sure ;o)

    Thanks again

  3. Maciej Fita says:

    I like the tip on the reporter site. I think this is an area that people completely forget about sometimes. Also, connecting with reporters can be a tricky thing as well. Thanks for sharing the site!

    • Mandy says:

      Welcome! I think sometimes, we SEOs get so wrapped up in new media that we forget some of the old school tactics that work well :)

  4. Thanks for this, I've never heard of HARO, but I'm off to check it out right now. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sarah Abraham says:

    I have got to check HARO out! Thanks for sharing. Working in online marketing for a hotel, and we are looking at some creative ways to promote the hotel. Shall give your tips a go.

    Also, found these articles useful

    http://www.searchenginejournal.com/17-creative-link-building-ideas-please-add-your-own/5970/
    and
    http://www.first10marketing.com/blog/28-link-building-ideas-for-online-hotel-marketers-to-get-new-customers/

  6. Asad says:

    I loved the fresh outlook – most SEO guides are about 6 years out of date. Brilliant article.