In their book Ultimate Guide to Link Building, link-building gurus Eric Ward and Garrett French offer straightforward advice to help you earn a higher search engine ranking and increase the authority and popularity of your site. In this edited excerpt, the authors describe the types of assets you may have that other sites will want to share with their visitors.
Linkable assets are the experts, pages, widgets, tools, discounts, relationships and any other people or pages related to your organization that incentivize others to share a link with their site visitors. When you understand what's linkable about your organization, as well as what types of assets earn links in your market, you'll have a much easier time identifying your link opportunity types. Knowing these types makes you more effective at prospecting for these opportunities.
The following linkable asset categories will help get you thinking about what your organization's linkable assets could be. Thinking broadly and creatively at the beginning of a link-building campaign can open you up to a stronger, more effective campaign design. After all, you could be sitting on a link magnet and not even realize it.
Free apps and tools on your site.
Do you provide any free applications or web-based tools to your site visitors? If so, it's likely that these have already attracted links naturally. If you haven't promoted these tools yet for the purpose of link building, then these assets could help you develop even more links. Be careful, though, when designing and building a tool or app -- they can be expensive (sometimes two to three times what you expect or what you're quoted), can seem to take forever to develop, and could still flop. That said, nothing demonstrates your expertise like a custom tool you've crafted to make your customers' lives easier.
Products and services to give away for donations, contests or review.
If you have products or services you can give away, you can earn links through donation thank-you pages, through contests, and via product/service reviews from experts in your market. Often this asset is one of the easiest paths to developing links. However, it's fairly easy for your competitors to emulate. Further, these approaches to link building can create enormous and unexpected logistical nightmares, such as shipping and packaging, or even getting the winner's contact information from the site conducting the giveaway.
Widgets, tools, images and data for publishers.
Have you created widgets, tools, images, or data that publishers of other websites are free to add to their websites? Infographics, embeddable tools, research data, and other types of information created for the express purpose of giving it away is a classic and powerful method for earning links. If you have any of these assets and you haven't aggressively and extensively promoted them, then you're leaving valuable links and relationships on the table.
Thought leaders and subject matter experts.
Are there thought leaders and subject matter experts in your organization? Do they have time to write or in some other way share their expertise with the market? These linkable assets could generate links in the form of interviews, guest posts, and quote contributions to industry news publications.
Related: Why Buying Backlinks Is Bad for SEO
Do you have business partners, vendors, customers, and technology licensees? Each of these represents a potential link in the form of testimonials, published client lists, and "powered by" buttons. Gather a list of your vendors and partners, and look for ways to acquire (and give) links to all of them. Think interviews, think link requests for their vendors and partners pages, and think updated "powered by" badges.
Job listings, events and coupons.
If your organization consistently publishes job openings, puts on events, or launches new products, then you've got quite a few link opportunities open to you. Colleges and industry vertical sites are sometimes willing to link to pages that feature new job openings. Many cities have event calendars that will publish details about your event and post links on their site for sign-up and more information. If you consistently offer coupons to your customers, then you'll find massive numbers of coupon-listing sites, many of which link back.
Consistent publishing via blog, video, podcast, Twitter and more.
Do you or does your organization publish content consistently? These linkable assets open you up to numerous link opportunity types from around your industry -- everything from blog directories, to niche social news sites, to blog lists, to PDF submissions, to distribution sites. In some industries, the fact that your CEO blogs is link-worthy and notable in itself.
Money is almost always a linkable asset in that if you have the money, you can offer it to another site in exchange for a link. However, the link opportunities that you can purchase are often easy for competitors to duplicate. Further, some search engines aggressively penalize (in the form of lowered search rankings) purchased links that aren't labeled or coded as advertisements, making them a potentially risky investment that could end up costing far more in damages than they bring in search traffic. Some sites, such as directories, require a budget as well.