Link building is arguably one of the toughest jobs on any marketer or SEOs to do list. Gaining good quality, relevant links from authority sources is time consuming and the competition for those all-important backlinks is usually fierce. If this sounds all too familiar, there is good news - in addition to the tactics you likely already use to acquire links, real-life events are also a treasure trove of link building opportunities.
There was a suspicion that link-building was dead. Not so. Countless studies have shown that links still give power to a website, and help it edge ahead of competitors in the SERPs. Link building is all about great quality in good quantity, with link acquisition paced at a natural velocity. Links form a strong foundation of trust indicators for Google and combined with other SEO best practices will ensure healthy performance.
With the emphasis on quality, link-building activities also contribute more than ever to PR goals. B2B and B2C brands must put forward representatives to comment in mainstream news articles, provide and conduct interviews, write guest articles and much more. But there’s a perception that link-building is a solely “digital” activity, confined to online outreach. In fact, links are also built in the real world!
I recently published a comprehensive guide to link-building, which covered multiple aspects of building links for B2B organizations. This was split into “bread and butter” links, and the more innovative time-consuming links. One aspect that has been underexplored is the process of acquiring links through real-life interactions. As I mentioned in my article, events are key to this. But there are more opportunities.
Ultimately, every life opportunity arises through the means of human action and interaction, or via the construction or leverage of a relationship. Is there such thing as an “offline world” now? The Internet of Things (IoT) has blurred this line somewhat, as we’re connected 24/7 by our fridge, our watch and our television. For the sake of argument and clarity, let’s refer to activities conducted away from a device’s screen as this “offline world”. This article looks at how we can build backlinks within this sphere.
As a business representative (or leader), you’re meeting people every day. Sometimes these people are customers or clients. Sometimes they are partners. Sometimes they are suppliers. In any case, seldom does a successful enterprise operate in isolation. This breeds interconnectivity, and elevates the prospect of win-win scenarios. It’s time to spot those opportunities and bring them home.
Tactics for getting backlinks
I’m going to split this section up into the areas that are most suited to getting backlink opportunities. Each of these real-world activities provide lots of angles for link-building:
Internal and external events
Every business should consider running events as a key method of interacting with its audience base, local community, business partners and other stakeholders. Events are PR-worthy, tangible and portray an air of authority, expertise and commitment to your industry and its stakeholders.
Furthermore, businesses should also keep an eye on external events, run by local authorities, business groups, and industry players. Look to get involved wherever possible.
Sponsorship: This is especially pertinent to local SEO, as local backlinks are crucial to enhancing your relevance in the area. A condition of sponsorship should be that all event communications (or as many as possible) should feature your sponsorship link. If you can get this agreement in writing, you’re much more likely to get links back from local press when they cover the event.
Putting on an event: Managing your own event is a lot of work, but if executed properly it’s certainly worth the investment. Depending on your area of expertise, there should be a wealth of industry press keen to preview and cover your event. Drive links to your event / ticket page, but also to your root domain. Offer an incentive for attendees to review the event afterwards and invite external contributors to appear.
Networking isn’t just to find new clients. This is an activity to build local relationships, mix with other industry professionals and discover partners. Networking can throw up client opportunities, sure. But it’s rare to translate this one-off meeting into immediate business. A lower threshold for conversion ensures that every networking breakfast is one which delivers results.
Interviews: If you meet a like-minded (or opposite-minded) individual with perspectives that interest your audience, invite them for an interview. This will help build relationships, create quick-win content and ensure that the interviewee promotes (and links to) the resulting article, video, or audio stream. Better still, if you feel confident, offer to supply your insights in interview format.
Guest blogging: Again, this is a low-commitment conversion, designed to build a relationship and benefit both parties. The theme here is win-win, and guest blogging is certainly in that category. By offering to write a guest article for a fellow networker’s website, you provide them with free content from a trusted source and your website acquires relevant valuable backlinks.
Some of your suppliers will have small operations and some will be colossal goliath corporations with a reputation and website to match. It’s important to engage with both of these, with particular emphasis on the bigger corporations with well-established case study pages.
Testimonials: A comprehensive testimonial and/or case study which supports the cause of your trusted supplier will be welcomed by a supplier’s marketing and communications team. This should include a link to your website, and could even reference a piece of content that you create about their product or service.
Content partnerships: Real-life partnerships with suppliers can be transformed into online content partnerships, in which you leverage each other’s expertise, audience and data. If your supplier is active in digital content marketing, they’re ripe for this sort of relationship. Again, a win-win. Your contributions add unique value to their content, and you get a nice juicy link and PR exposure in return.
Talks and speaking opportunities
A TED talk will certainly get you places, although it’s a somewhat exclusive club. No worries, there are many other valuable opportunities for public speaking - a tactic that every business leader is encouraged to seek out as often as possible. But how can you acquire backlinks by public speaking?
Provide the exclusive: Partner with a well-respected blog to feature the original (and unique) video content from your talk. These sites are hungry for good video and they’ll be receptive if you take on the bulk of the work. This also works for podcasts and audio shows. First and foremost, the content of your talk must be valuable to their audience and not overloaded with self-promotion or sales pitches.
Insist on a preview article: Wherever you’re lined up to talk should create a preview blog post or web page, where attendees can register interest and learn about speakers. This is prime backlink territory, and you could even write your own preview blog post solely based on the themes in the upcoming talk.
Help with roundups and reviews: Relay your ability to help attendees with their roundup or review posts. Supply the presentation deck, offer additional quotes, and make it as easy as possible for those watching your talk to summarize it on their own website.
The number one priority for any marketing activity is to convert leads into paying business. However, it’s also important to recognize that while not every interaction will bring a direct, measureable result right away; there is value in long term relationship building. Backlinks benefit SEO, which in turn benefits your business and its bottom-line. This means that every link can be considered as a valuable conversion, especially if there’s no prospect of winning a new business contract at that particular stage of the relationship.
This is about maximizing the underlying business value of every real-world occurrence. It’s important to understand that the online and offline worlds are connected like never before, so there is a unique opportunity to intertwine them yet further and build a formidable backlink profile. In almost all cases, there’s an element of content creation.
Your content team should be flexible and responsive to make use of every opportunity, and alert to methods of building links through daily activities.