|Link-building Identity Crisis|
We have a five year old website, financial niche, that we have left alone for a while, but now we are ready to dust it off, build some backlinks and move it back up in the serp's. The problem is all the back-link building for this website was done pre-panda. We used article marketing, and has several off-shore link builders churning out hundreds of ordinary links for us each week.
However, Post-Panda, back-link building will be an entirely different animal this time, or will it? The site has tons of original (and current) content, is well indexed, and ranks well for a lot of medium difficulty keywords.
The back-link problem, as I see it, is an identity crisis. The website first and foremost is a commercial website that offers financial widgets, secondly it is a blog that has tons of good content.
Here are the link-building strategies I have contemplated for this websites and the roadblocks as I see them:
A.Get in good with the personal finance blogs (snob-blogs), by taking part on their blogs, commenting on their articles and linking to them in our articles. Hopefully after enough time has passed, we will be able to cozy up to some of the snobbiest-blogs and begin to build our credibility and reputation in the snob-blog community. THE PROBLEM : The personal finance snob-blogs tend to dislike websites that offer "financial widgets" and view us as a "commercial website" even though our content is just as good, or even better, than theirs. Which means we will be link-begging, guest post begging and buying for the foreseeable future.
B. Run with the big dogs. Come out swinging un-apologetically as a commercial website that offers damn good content as well. The problem is, the "Big Dogs" in this niche are huge. They have investigative reporters, we have writers that write what I investigate, there is a big difference. They get mentioned in all of the major financial news publications and have links on all of the authority websites. THE PROBLEM : How can we get in with the big publications without hiring a publicist and PR firm?
C.Continue chasing medium competition keywords with 3rd world link building tactics. THE PROBLEM :will we get Pandasized?
We want to be an authority website with excellent content, but we also want to, need to, sell the financial widgets. The backdoor into getting the recognition we need to build that authority is to cozy up with the snob-blogs, who think we smell a little funny. So do we dilute the commercial side of the website in favor of the snob-blogs; or do we embrace the commercial side of the website and start chasing rainbows?
Have you considered reciprocal linking (gasp!) with other financial related sites that dont compete with your own site?
Not really ... I think that hiring someone to pump out social bookmarks, blog comments, forum postings is bad ... but I think reciprocal linking is just as bad and more work ...
however our "financial widgets" are credit cards and that pretty much is the basis of our website. Our blog and on-page content is as good as anyone's. The problem is, all of the blogs that pass the real juice are "personal finance" blogs who have a love/hate relationship with credit cards. Meaning, they love to write about how evil they and how much they hate them. They also love to send link love to my competitors (the big boys) and look down their noses at me when I ask to buy a link or guest post or whatever ...
I had a conversation last year with a blogger that fits the exact description you've mentioned. Because all the bloggers in my niche are like that as well.
Here's how the conversation went.
Them: "I don't take paid guest posts, and I don't publish syndicated content."
Me: "So you won't take $200 for a guest post"
THem: "that's right. <paraphrase>I'm so virtuous, money can't sway me </paraphrase"
Me: "What if it's Friday afternoon, you're headed off for the weekend, you want some easy content - what if I offered you $5000 to publish a syndicated press release, where you just lead with 'I caught this on the web, though readers would be interested, I'm republishing verbatem'. Would you take the $5K, publish, and go have a good weekend?"
You know the punchline to that joke right?
In short, don't believe them when they say they don't take money. We all get paid. You just haven't offered enough.
Here's what you need to do. You need to find some other way to get at these bloggers. It's not easy - but build something ELSE that lets you call them and say 'hey, I flog credit cards, yeah, I'm dirty and ugly, but I have this OTHER thing that you might be interested in'. If you can find that OTHER thing, whatever it is, now you can call every single one of them and open a conversation.
The rest of your questions follow from that initial contact. The ultra high end bloggers I rounded up 2-3 years ago now contact me for stories in my niche. They are now becoming mainstream journalists, so I get mentioned in the press. I don't do anything to make that happen, they just call me.
I had a reporter call me last night at 10pm with a mad rush. He was quoting me in a story with a deadline of tomorrow. He'd contacted one of my customers for a picture for the story, they couldn't make it - so I had to hook him up at 10pm with another happy customer of mine, and coordinate a photo shoot today. That reporter? Just a blogger I hooked up with a year or two ago for 'other' reasons.
This is stuff my wife calls 'why are you working on stuff that doesn't make us any money". Well, because that other stuff is what connects me to the bloggers in my niche, who later become mainstream reporters, who later quote me in all the mainstream press.
Now we're putting together a book. I have a professional journalist who is going to act as editor. And I've got 5 of the biggest bloggers online writing chapters on their speciality. And oh yeah, I'm writing a chapter about my product. Then we're going to sell the heck out of that book across all their blogs. End result, I've got all the top bloggers doing my tom sawyer work - selling my articles on their sites.
All of this came from calling them and offering them something else. And fwiw, my industry is about as competitive as what you've mentioned, and certainly as disliked/filled with spam/affiliates/etc.
So, in summary, forget what you're selling completely. Find something you can offer the snob bloggers as you call them - something innovative and attractive to them. Then start calling them (and you should call them, not email).
Wheel, thanks, I can always count on you to give an excellent response. For years I was in the mortgage industry and I lived on the phone ... When I went to work for myself I vowed ... "I have kissed my last ass" ... However it appears the saying is true, "Never say never" .. I'm going to start pounding the phones tomorrow. Are you getting the phone numbers off of "whois" data?
Also, after spending all of those years on the phone I found that the worst thing you can do is sound like a salesman. I used to teach loan officers to "Never get caught selling" its the easiest way to lose the sale. Do you have a spiel that you have found that is effective for breaking the ice?
Should I hit them up front with "here I am, this is what I do, and can we help each other" or maybe the use the Gambit "your blog is so cool, can you help a poor wretch like me"?
More details than I'd probably like to share publicly. Check your PM's. I'll show you specifics.