Backlinks from authority sites, or those that Google holds in high regard, are invaluable in raising the search ranking of your website. The traditional means of getting these backlinks has been to submit a guest post to one of these sites. That’s hardly a reliable method, however, especially if your site is still virtually unknown. You usually have to compete with others to get the site’s attention, produce content that’s high-quality enough that they’ll accept it, and on top of that they may request financial compensation for the right to post on their site as well.
There’s also the issue of being swatted by Google for guest posting. In recent years they’ve been cracking down on sites that they feel host too many guest posts or guest posts of low quality, labeling it as a “spam” technique. Not only does this make authority sites more gun-shy about taking on guest posts, but it can also hurt your site by proxy if you get associated with a network that Google frowns upon.
So if guest posting is on the wane, then how do you go about building quality backlinks? Try these innovative techniques instead.
Got A Blog? Join Blog Aggregator Sites
Blog aggregator sites curate quality blogs into lists divided by topic. If you’ve got a quality blog that’s updated regularly and has been around for at least a few months or so, they’ll likely accept it for free.
The trick is finding reputable sites that accept blogs for free, as there are plenty of scummy pay-for-play sites in this space that will likely hurt your search rankings for all your troubles. Some reputable aggregators include EatonWeb, Dmoz and Best of the Web.
Build Your Social Media Profile
If you still think social media is a useless waste of time, it’s time to check out the authority level that the big sites have with Google. In addition to bringing in new traffic through these channels, links posted to them through your own account can actually help your site’s search ranking — especially when other people share them through their own accounts.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that you should select only social media platforms that you plan to be able to update regularly and that reach an audience that’s relevant to you. A musty and rarely-updated or off-topic social media account might actually end up hurting your brand. When in doubt, Twitter and Facebook are the Big Two that are used by just about every demographic there is.
Got A Product? Give It To People
If you’re marketing an actual product, whether it be something tangible or something digital (like an ebook or game), give it to people.
Now, you can’t directly ask for a review in exchange, because that violates Google’s guidelines for webmasters. However, there’s nothing wrong with sending them a product with no strings attached, but asking that they think about reviewing it or mentioning it if they’re so inclined.
Bloggers in your industry or niche are the best people to reach out to, especially those that have previously posted product reviews with links back to the manufacturer or author.
If you don’t have a product, consider creating some sort of informative ebook or white paper related to your industry to give away.
Create A Scholarship
If your company has the resources to create a scholarship, it can be worth its weight in gold in backlinks from coveted .edu sites, which Google tends to regard more highly than anything else.
There’s a tendency to think of scholarships as something that entirely covers someone’s tuition and expenses, but that’s not how they work anymore. Most scholarships are actually much smaller amounts, meant to just defray some of a student’s expenses each semester or academic year. $500 is a lower-end number that lots of different companies offer.
Once you’ve decided on the scholarship name and the terms of application (often some sort of writing contest on a topic related to your industry), you create a page on your site advertising it. Then find .edu domains that maintain scholarship pages and let them know about it! Between the backlinks and the good PR it generates, this technique can be worth much more than the few hundred per year that is spent on it.
Create Value For An Authority Site
Sites actually pay usability testers to find places in which they are broken, behaving strangely or just cumbersome to use. They’ll very frequently appreciate it when you point these things out for free. Look for sites in your industry or niche, find stuff that’s not working (like broken links or outdated references), then send a nice email alerting them to the issue along with a gentle suggestion that they might add your relevant content as a link.
These are just a few techniques to get started with. There’s also always the option of contracting out to a link building service, who have their own networks to take advantage of. Get creative and you’ll find no end of ideas for securing backlinks, and can wave goodbye to guest posts forever!