Building links is still an important part of marketing your business online. Nowadays content marketing is the king of link building. But there are ways to build links without creating content.
Link building isn’t some mystical SEO hack. Building links is straightforward: find relevant sites that have a reason to link and convince them to link.
Why would another site link to yours? For a variety of reasons: because a relationship already exists; because they’re talking about your business/products; because you’re a valuable resource for their audience; or because you’re involved in the same community events. These are other reasons, of course.
Links represent a relationship and connection online. If you want to build links without creating content, then you should be looking for opportunities created by existing relationships and connections.
Providing value is essential to earning links. You’ll never secure meaningful links unless there is value in the link for the other site—value for them, their website and their audience.
Any link-building tactic (including content creation) can be abused, and you shouldn’t build relationships and engage with your community for the sake of links alone. Pursuing links for SEO value alone breeds the wrong mindset, leading to strained relationships, damaged brand reputation and low-quality, spammy links.
Here are a few opportunities that likely already exist for your business that you can use to build links without content:
- Community involvement
- Testimonials and reviews
Links result from real connections. As long as your business is active and engaged in sound marketing, you can build links without creating fresh content.
1. Mention link opportunities
Online mentions are the easiest way to secure links without fresh content.
Of course your business, brand, executives, products or services have to actually be mentioned online. Whatever the reason — offline marketing, PR or some other form of brand building — people need to be talking about your company.
Brand mentions are the most common types of mentions, but there are a variety of other “mentions” you can target as well. Mention opportunities include:
- Prominent employees
- Well-known products
- Proprietary images
- Hosted or sponsored events
- Company buildings
- Offline marketing campaigns
- Brand representatives and spokespeople
- Slogans, catchphrases or taglines
- Key business actions (mergers, acquisitions, funding and so on)
Even controversies can lead to media coverage that creates link opportunities. The types of mentions you pursue are only limited by your creativity and ingenuity. If someone is referencing your company in some way online, that’s a relevant link opportunity.
These are often overlooked by PR and marketing folks alike, so talk to your marketing staff so you’re aware of any upcoming and past media coverage. If these campaigns are already planned, running, or ran in the past, you don’t have to create new content — you just need to find the coverage discussing your brand.
Mention link opportunities tend to be high-converting, since the website has already seen fit to mention your company. It’s not a stretch to include the link, particularly if you ask politely and explain that it helps their audience by providing more context.
Before search engines existed, people used directories to navigate the web. Search engines have diminished the need for directories, but having your site linked on a relevant directory can still send valuable referral traffic.
Directories focus on websites as a whole, rather than specific pieces of content, so you don’t have to create fresh content to secure a listing. As long as your site is a legitimate, relevant resource for the directory, your chances of earning a link are good.
If a directory is relevant (either by niche or location), you’ll still need to QA other metrics. Other signals you should scrutinize:
- Traffic: Does anyone actually use the directory?
- Editorial process: Is the directory curated by a real human being?
- Sites listed: Are competitors present?
- Topical focus: Are the categories listed specific and relevant?
- Authority metrics (Domain/Page Authority, Trust/Citation Flow and so on): Does the site show signs of authority?
- Indexation: Is the site indexed and cached by Google?
Meaningful partnerships have many benefits, including cooperative marketing, referral business, product collaboration, and of course, valuable link opportunities. Co-authoring content is actually a viable way to build new partnerships online, but if you have existing relationships, you can find link opportunities without creating any new content.
Real-world partners are the ideal link partners. If you have public offline partnerships, those partnerships should absolutely be recognized online with links.
4. Community engagement
Many companies give back to their community in a variety of ways — both locally and within their industry.
Supporting your local community opens doors for numerous brand-building activities and creates link opportunities that are often overlooked.
Google views links as a vote of confidence, for good reason. Links are often used to signify a relationship online, add more context to a conversation or give recognition.
You want your offline relationships and activities to be represented online, which means securing links. Of course, these links should be a byproduct of the good work you’re already doing in the community.
The goal of creating content is often to encourage community engagement and interaction (and secure links). But there are a wide variety of ways to be involved in your community that can earn relevant links without building content:
- Sponsoring local events
- Charity work
- Offering scholarships to local colleges
- Conducting or participating in interviews
- Partnering with other businesses to offer unique discounts
- Recruiting locally for your company
- Sponsoring local athletic teams
- Hosting conferences, trade shows and networking events
Community involvement isn’t limited to offline activities, either. Find where your audience congregates online and be active in those communities as well. Some examples of potential online communities worth engaging with include:
- Google+ Communities
- Comment sections of popular blogs
- Industry forums and advice websites
- Social platforms
Links on these platforms won’t always provide raw SEO value, but they can send targeted referral traffic, and the engagement with your audience (even without links) is worth the effort.
Similar to partnerships, testimonial links are byproducts of real, existing relationships.
When considering testimonial opportunities, think about the various products or services that contribute to your day-to-day operations. You should only provide testimonials if you truly believe in the business you’re endorsing, not for the purpose of a backlink.
Getting these 5 types of links can be powerful, especially for local. Local businesses who get these types of links will have a step up on their competition.