A couple of months ago before I started my work in SEO I was pretty naïve with my knowledge of what went on behind the scenes on the Internet. I would see and notice many different things around the Internet, but I would never stop to notice and think that what was going on was specifically done to help rank websites to reach the top of Google’s search results. It is clear to me how deceiving Internet marketing is and how something I used to think everything was a pure coincidence or just a traditional marketing technique.
After learning about the art of creating backlinks, I particularly became more interested and motivated by crafting and using the most creative way to generate backlinks. Ever since then I have been on the search to find my own creative ways to build links, but until then, I will count down my top 10 favorite creative tactics I have learned, encountered or have used myself.
10. Quizzes and Tests
At number 10 we have quizzes and tests. This may have been a bigger phenomenon in the earlier days of Facebook when everyone and their grandma were completing quizzes online, but they are still a powerful way to create links. You can’t deny the amount of success a website like Buzzfeed has with its quizzes section of their website. With over 600,000 backlinks, and over 35,000 Facebook shares, this one of the most impressive tactics for sure. It is worth noting when creating these quizzes you should keep the topics related to your website. Create a badge to show off the results, but don’t use your money keywords as the anchor text, but rather the name of the quiz, and the link of the badge should point back to the quiz page and not the home page.
9. Customer Stories
At number 9 we have customer stories. Taking customer reviews to a whole other level, let them create and share their stories online on your website. Let them do all the hard work by promoting your website by them sharing the links to the stories. If for example, you are a wedding photographer, there are some really unique things that you can do. For example, you can dedicate a portion of your website where wedding attendees can post their own photos and stories they have taken at the wedding for the purpose of sharing with their family members. People are always eager to see wedding photos, and since the turnaround is sometimes slow, this gives family members a quick preview of what’s to come.
8. Free Content, Tools & Tutorials
At number 8 we have to create free shareable content, tools, tutorials, etc, that would otherwise normally cost. Many years ago when I was a hobbyist filmmaker, I decided to get my feet wet with making some tutorials to help promote my brand. One of the first video tutorial I created when I had virtually little to no exposure. I advertised as a Colour Correction video tutorial with a free preset download. That free download was the money maker for this video. With a subscription base of under 100 on YouTube, I was able to get over 10,000 video views in the first week, and have over 400 downloads for my Colour Correction Preset. One of my favorite examples of someone who took the video editing/motion graphics industry by storm by creating free content, was Andrew Kramer, with his Video-Copilot website. Offering free tutorials and plugins, he created a lot of incentives to have his content shared by users. His tutorials page has an impressive 7,650 backlinks and even more Facebook shares, likes and tweets.
7. Thank you emails
At number 7 we have customer thank you emails. This tactic works on so many different levels and will do a lot of great things for your business. It will generate your links, repeat business and give customers a great sense of customer service. The idea is to thank customers for their purchase and ask them that if they were happy with the service/products to link back to your website if they have a blog, website, etc. If they write a blog review of your product or anything of that sort which will link back to your website, you can encourage them to share that post with you, and offer them a discount for a future purchase, or credit their account for the purchase they had just made.
6. April Fool’s Jokes
At number 6 we have April Fools Jokes. With this year’s April Fools just around the corner, it’s a great time to get a joke running. It can’t be mediocre, it has to be really believable, but the more outrageous the better. Many companies tend to do April fool jokes, but the one joke I always wished had come true was IGN’s Legend of Zelda movie, which they premiered a trailer for in 2008 as an April’s Fool joke. With its YouTube video gaining over 5 million views to date, I would say it was a pretty successful stunt that captivated the minds and imaginations of a lot of Zelda fans around the world. Here is a list to check out all of IGN’s other great April Fools jokes.
At number 5 we have contests. Entering contests or starting your own contests are great ways to get links. If you join a contest where you have to submit a blog, infographic, photograph, etc, you maybe be able to provide your link on there. A great website where you can enter photography contests is http://www.viewbug.com/photo-contests. As a winner, you’ll win some sweet prizes and be featured in a blog.
However, the best thing is starting your own contest. Let’s say your business is in the photography industry and you start a photo contest, you can have entrants submit their photos on your website. Implementing a voting system will get entrants motivated to share their photos and the contest details with their friends. Another benefit of creating a contest, it will relatively easy to reach influential people in your industry that will freely want to share this contest with their viewers/customers. This will get your website even more authoritative links. A photography magazine like Photo Life is a great example of a photography magazine that has been able to generate a lot of links by holding contests. Here are the results from MOZ’s Open Site Explorer, which shows over 1000 back-links to their main contest page.
4. Supply and Demand
At number 4 we have, supply and demand. Sometimes building a link is a simple as supplying something that another person needs. In my case what I have found works well with me is creating a graphic, logo, or providing someone with my photographic artwork in exchange for a link. I start my hunt by looking for bloggers that have authority in the industry I am trying to promote. I try to find ones that look like they need some overall design help. I feel like bloggers are pretty self-conscious about their blog esthetics, and it is a pretty easy sell if you can provide them with a better design for free. If you are not well versed in graphic design, you can always head to websites like www.fiverr.com. It is a great community of people willing to create content for you at a price. You can get a logo done for someone for $5. I admit this can be a hit or miss sometimes with the quality, but in a lot of cases, it is probably better than what some people might already have.
3. In-person Relationship Building
At number 3 we have one for all the social butterflies. If you’re anything like me and hate talking on the phone, or spamming people with continuous tweets or emails to build relationships, this one is for you. Why not use the power of human interaction?! Now, this might be a lot more time consuming than some of the online counterparts of the “relationship building for link-building,” but I also feel like it is one of the most rewarding. While working with a local Toronto photographer, I found that leveraging my own network of photographers that I had as a hobbyist photographer, and attending local meetups was a great way to create many links. These relationships were often mutually beneficial for all the parties involved. The best way to get involved with meetups is to use a site such as www.meetup.com. You can find local meetups that are in your field of interest, and if there’s not already one out there you can start your own.
2. Existing non-linked Mentions
At number 2 we have what I like to call my EUREKA moment. Something that may be most people haven’t even thought of, but quite possibly one of the EASIEST, and I REALLY MEAN EASIEST way to get links. I would say that the majority of the time people mention you, your product, your brand, or anything that has to do with you, they will NOT actually link to you. Well, why not use a service like www.mention.com, and find out every time you are being mentioned online, and reach out to those people and ask them for a link. I would say that most often than not people will not have a problem with doing so.
1. Outrage and Obscurity
At number 1 we have my all-time favorite. The reason I love this one the most is that it reminds me of myself and something that I would have done was I working in this field before someone else came up with the idea. The idea is doing something outrageous like having an over-priced product that no one will ever buy or providing a really obscure service. A couple of months ago I came across a very interesting article on my go-to photography news source, Peta Pixel. A Brooklyn based photographer by the name of Mark Schwartz started a little side project www.tinderheadshots.com, taking people’s headshots for the popular mobile dating app, Tinder. This attracted a lot of attention across the Internet and was featured in popular news sites like New York Post, BBC, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and many more. Using MOZ’s Open Site Explorer we can find out a bit more information about this website and see what kind of results it yielded. It created 38 backlinks and lots of shares, likes, and tweets. Besides its first-mover advantage, you can be certain that this gentleman has been able to reach the top spot on Google for Tinder headshots.
A second example I want to show you is an example from the American Best Buy website. Now Best Buy doesn’t always rank first on product description pages, especially not in front of Amazon, but in this particular case “Diamond HDMI cable” does. Maybe it was at help of our good friends from Reddit that
made this particular $1000+ HDMI cable go viral, but nevertheless this page spread like wildfire. So before you do anything else today, do yourself a favor and have a good laugh when reading the brilliant “troll reviews” left by users. The reason I like this tactic is that not only do you draw a lot of attention by having an outrageously overpriced product, you might get a few people that might actually buy the damn thing. “The proof is in the pudding,” as they say.
Above is a look at the results from MOZ on this webpage. It has 35 backlinks and a tone of shares across social media.
Most recently with the announcement of the Apple Watch, they also announced a $10,000 version of the watch. It is a little early to analyze what kind of effect this will have at the time that I am writing this blog post, but it’s worth keeping your eyes open for this one.