If you’re serious about SEO, you’ve probably researched some strategies for backlink building. In case you’re just joining the SEO party, that’s the process of obtaining hyperlinks from another website to your own.
Search engines use links to both find new websites and determine how high a site should rank in their results pages. In other words, if a lot of high-quality websites link to you, Google will assume that your site is high quality too and you’ll get bumped up in search results.
In the world of SEO, backlink building is at the top of the list of strategies to improve your rankings. Backlink acquisition and management are also among the most talked about SEO tactics. You have probably heard of the usual suspects:
- Creating useful content and asking quality sites to post it and link back to you;
- Guest blogging on another site;
- Internal backlinking.
Some of these are easier than others, but they all work, and they’re all useful. But we want you to have as many backlink-building strategies as possible in your arsenal. That’s why we’ve come up with seven creative approaches to backlink building that you probably haven’t seen yet that work amazingly well!
Create Your Own Real-World Scavenger Hunt.
Who doesn’t love a game? (Especially when players can win free stuff!) And who says backlink building can’t be fun?
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All you need for this one is some branded items and a few good hiding spots. If your business sells its own merchandise, you already have step one covered.
Next, head out into your community and hide your prizes. If your business has strong local ties to one city or town, there’s your game board. If you have multiple locations or you’re a nationwide company, you could hold more than one scavenger hunt, or do a massive game with participants in several different cities.
Hide your branded merchandise around town. You want it hidden well enough that random passersby won’t pick it up, but not so well that your players can’t find it. (That IS the point, after all!)
Then go online and tell your followers about the game. Announce it on your website, post it to Facebook, and Tweet about it. Get people excited to find your prizes, and ask them to Tweet photos of themselves with their new stuff. You can even give it your own hashtags, like #merchhunt2023 or something personalized with your brand’s name. Then Tweet frequent updates with clues, like, “We can’t believe nobody’s found our all-weather jacket yet! We were “banking” on that one going first!” (Get it? The jacket is somewhere near the bank.) You’ll drum up enthusiasm and get more people involved.
Not only will this generate excitement for your brand, but you may also end up with some backlinks from winners who share their stories online. If you’re really lucky, a news outlet will discover the game and cover it as well. But don’t leave this up to chance! Be sure to send out a press release!
Offer Discounts to Students and University Staff.
Backlink building from educational websites is one of the best ways to get valuable backlinks. If you have any products that benefit students or teachers, offer a discount. You can even offer a bigger promotion for certain times of year, like teacher appreciation week, or back to school.
Next, contact someone at all nearby universities. Your best bets will be the student union, student affairs office, faculty services, or perhaps a webmaster. Tell them about your discount and how it can benefit their students, staff, and professors. Many schools have pages dedicated to employee and student discounts. If you can get a link from that page–or anywhere else on the university website–you’ll get a major boost to your backlink profile.
There are also a number of popular blogs and websites that do round-ups of the best teacher discounts, especially in April and May when teacher appreciation week approaches. Do a Google search for “best teacher discounts,” find the pages where these deals are listed, and email the administrator asking to be included.
You could also do something similar around back-to-school time. Google “best back-to-school deals for students/teachers” and ask to be listed in those round-ups.
Create a Scholarship Program
If you have the funds to support a small scholarship (even if it is only $500-$1,000) then this is a good way to acquire a university backlink. Backlinks from universities are very valuable in the eyes of Google and Bing. Even better, you’ll give back to your community and help a deserving student pay for college.
You’ll need to come up with a few parameters. How will students apply for the scholarship? What are the entry requirements? Will applicants participate in a contest? Who will judge it? It doesn’t have to be super complicated. Prom Guide offers a $1,000 scholarship to the cutest prom couple based on Instagram likes. And the Gallery Collection awards $10,000 to the applicant who can design the best greeting card.
Next, contact an administrator in the financial aid office to ask them if they can share the link to your scholarship page with students via their financial aid page. Valuable university backlink: done!
Put Yourself Out There…Literally.
Remember way back in the day when Lyft sent out a Ghostbusters car in honor of the 2016 movie reboot? You can do that too!
Okay, maybe not with a Ghostbusters car, but you get the idea. What is a creative way that you can get visible in the real world?
A Chevrolet dealership in Brazil generated a lot of buzz when they teamed up with a towing service to identify potential customers whose cars were broken down. They showed up at the towing site and offered them a test drive for a ride home.
South African beer brand Windhoek offered free drone delivery of their ice-cold cans to revelers at a popular local music festival.
There are plenty of opportunities for your to connect with customers in the real world as well. Run a crafting business? Host a free class. Own a restaurant? Invest in a food truck that you can bring to community events. Is your business more academic in nature? Hold a seminar and invite knowledgeable speakers. There are literally thousands of opportunities to promote your business while interacting with real-world consumers.
If your promotion is fun and exciting, you’ve got a pretty good chance that customers will share their memories online. Even better, you can contact local media and ask them to cover or preview your event. Newspapers are right up there with universities in the most coveted backlink category. And if you can get a reporter to tell your story, you’re almost certain to get a backlink from their site.
Sponsor a Cause.
What do you believe in? Is there a cause that you’d like to support? Some corner of the world that you want to help improve? Become a corporate sponsor. Not only will you be doing good and helping your community, but most charities list their sponsors on their websites. And of course, that listing includes a backlink from a .org website – also hugely valuable.
Find Out What Your Competitors Are Doing.
If you’ve already tried a lot of strategies and you just haven’t had much luck, do a little research. What are your competitors doing?
There are a number of websites where you can plug in a URL and get a list of backlinks to that site. (Moz, Semrush, and Alexa, for example.) And once you know where your competitors’ backlinks are coming from, it shouldn’t be that difficult to plan a strategy for getting your link on that site as well. Are you a bonafide expert in your niche? Do you have information on your subject matter that the public would find useful?
Register as a source on HARO.
HARO literally stands for “help a reporter out.” Lots of writers and journalists use it to find experts to interview for stories. Some magazines and blogs even use it to curate products for a round-up.
When you sign up, list your areas of expertise. Then look out for queries from writers in your inbox. HARO sends these out 3 times a day, and there are a lot of them. If you see a subject that fits with your experience, send a pitch.
Often, the reporter will spell out exactly what they’re looking for. Remember to include as much relevant and useful information as you can in your pitch. If the reporter sees that you have information that will be useful to them, they are much more likely to contact you. And many media outlets are happy to include a link to your website when they quote you. These ideas won’t work for every business. For some companies, the traditional strategies for acquiring backlinks will bear the most fruit. The important thing is that you’re doing something and being successful.
But even if you already have a good backlink strategy, it never hurts to try something new. You might even have other outside-the-box ideas that we haven’t listed here. With diligence and patience, you should be able to gain quality backlinks to boost your SEO.
Need help with your backlink-building strategy? You don’t need to speak with a “backlink building company” but should talk to a well-rounded SEO agency that includes backlink building as part of their campaign plan.
What are some of the best backlink building strategies you’ve had success with?
Tim Woda is the CEO and founder of White Peak Marketing. He has been on the founding team of five successful start-ups and his digital marketing campaigns have acquired more than 800 million customers for his start-ups and White Peak’s client companies. Tim has been featured by The New York Times, Fox News, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and more. Under Tim’s direction, White Peak was selected as one of America’s Top Digital Marketing Agencies for 2021 by MarTech Outlook magazine.