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(Partly) Because of the site I'm working on right now (where I think Ill be able to get a few such links through offline networking), this got me wondering about opportunities to get links in the offline world. Has anyone of you guys done this before? Creating real business relationships (offline..or making phone calls, etc.) in order to get powerful links?
Some of my best links came from pubcon. All of my best link building ideas came from pubcon.
You're going down the right path with your idea of link building offline IMO. It's really just old school networking. The question becomes - how are you going to network?
Some examples of things I do:
- industry meetings
- I sell low cost calculators in my niche. So a lot of websites in my niche deal with me and know me. I have close relationships with many of these clients, many who are not in the same country as me. They call me to discuss the calculator and get an indepth tutorial on how to use my calculator to generate business...at no charge. Then I tell them if they want to thank me, a link is welcome. These are some of the easiest links I get from high quality, 10 year old well ranked websites in my niche. I also have the ability to mine this network for links further. If necessary,I'll call all these clients individually and give them the calculator for free in exchange for a link. I've not done this,but it's one of my aces in the hole I keep up my sleeve.
- I'm currently building an ad network to farm out ads to the high end bloggers in my niche. I've contacted these folks before to try to get guest blog posts and the like. I got some, but not most. They're too grassroots for that, I was percieved as commercial. Now I've got them all on board for my ad network and am talking to them (and will shortly be sending them money ). In unrelated news, I'm about to release a new and unique calculator for my niche. *Now* if I send them an email with news of the calculator are they going to give me a link? I bet just about all of them are going to. Because they know me now.
The way you've framed your question is interesting. I might have to sit down and think about specifically how I can build more links offline.
That got most of them onboard. But there were a few that I couldn't get by phone and who ignored or declined my email. So I told everyone who'd joined that they could get a percentage of the rev. share of anyone else who they referred. That resulted some of them calling their buddies (the ones I couldn't reach or who ignored me) and telling them to get on board. And that brought in the last few stragglers that I really wanted. I now have 'everyone who's anyone' to start promoting :).
And none of it done online.
A few points/ideas/questions:
1) "and give them the calculator for free in exchange for a link"
I guess bartering for links will be another technique that's on the rise, right? I can speak three languages (German is my mother tongue, but I can speak English/French, too). I know a guy who wants his site to go "global" (probably not much use ROI-wise, but he probably likes the idea of it being "global"). I've been wondering if contacting certain sites and asking them to translate some of their most popular/important contact into German (or French - I know enough French native speakers who'd proof-read my translation)..like an important article or someting for a good link might be a good bartering (as in high ROI) strategy for me. Maybe even hire a few people to translate their content into other popular languages, if it allows me to get a really powerful link. Any idea if this would work? Any other bartering ideas?
Ive been doing something similar in college actually: We had this PC class (where you have to watch videos to learn MS Office, which everyone hates..I watched them and wrote everything that happens down and now have something I can give away to get material for other classes (you wouldnt imagine how glad people are when they hear I got this on paper so they dont have to watch those utterly boring videos). And I can give it away as many times as I want! I've often been wondering if I could pull something like that off online..Ive been wondering if aaron wall might have done something like that with his seobook in the past "Here you get my nice 80$ e-book on SEO for free if you give me a link (as it is an e-book there's virtually no cost associated with using it as barter)"
2) If you go for links from high quality (high traffic) sites, is it the same as with most links? 90% of the additional traffic they give you (at the moment) are the search engine boost, just 10% the referral traffic you get directly through those links? Or does such an approach for link building..doing actual networking, using the phone, creating real relationships allow a webmaster to get links that'll be very powerful because they send actual traffic...for example because it might allow you to ask for a specific location on the page (will of course help more with rankings, but probably even more with receiving actual traffic)? (I guess I'm a bit obsessive about this, because I dislike one company being able to kill my whole business-model)
PubCon and SMX are part of that process of building links offline. Not only are there direct compatibilities but indirect ones as well that help inspire you to do other things from the examples and experiences of those you met. Funny thing about SMX New York, I met a lot of people from Los Angeles. Dots get connected. Allieances created. Links follow. Vegas is such an inexpensive destination, and if it's in the name of business, a write off too. In terms of offline link building, it's a great opportunity if you really put yourself out there.
Otherwise, if your website is a regional one, think of local businesses and give them a call. Give talks on SEO or organise round table discussions. Give courses in a community college or attend them. This way you can meet other people who are serious about what they are doing.
Admittedly, I have tried the above and so far, it has hardly worked - too many spammers, not enough thorough webmasters in my niche.
wheel, what kind of calculators are you talking about? Can you give an example?
Let's say you're targetting something in the way of a car market. Leasing vs buy calculators I'm sure are a dime a dozen. So create one that shows the monthly difference and total difference in leasing between car A and car B. I bet car dealers would love it, since consumers would be able to say 'well, it only costs $XX to buy more expensive car B'. And all it is, is calculate cost of lease A and lease B.
We had a discussion on a giftware store recently in this forum. You could create a calculator that 'finds' gifts - enter an age range and a price range and have it pull up all inventory that matches those specs. This sounds tough, but in fact you can make this easy to distribute. Just use an excel spreadsheet as the input, with rows that contain the age range, name of the gift, price of the gift, and url. All the program has to do is read the spreadsheet and perform a search and sort. Easy to distribute - and I bet something that you could get other gift stores to buy into. Yes, there's probably already something like this out there on a custom basis, but something that anyone can download and install easily?
I'm not in anything remotely related to giftware, but if I was, that's pretty much exactly the type of thing I'd be doing.
Of course, if you did that as a giftware calculator, you've got to follow it up with a lot of searches to find places that might be interested in the calculator and people that might be interested in linking to the calculator. Then approach them telling them about it.
And something that can be marketed quite well by off-link contacts, ie.: phone, mail (snail), face-to-face, etc. Inspirational. Unfortunately my niche (the one I care about) has no need for a nifty keen calculator. Sigh.... :(
A lot more of our link building is done offline now - and this is in the recruitment sector. If you're targeting decent quality sites for links you're pretty much guaranteed that there are lots of other people looking for those links as well. You have to truly stand out from the crowd, and really differentiate yourself. If you can't do it with your product, then do it in how you sell and tell people (websites where you'd like a link from) about the product.
I have no idea whether this is industry standard, but for me, historically a phone call has been much more effective than a really personalised email.
Unfortunately my niche has no need for a nifty keen calculator. Sigh.... :(
Most people would suggest that the giftware market has no need for calculators either. Yet I just showed you one in that market. One I think actually has half a chance of actually bringing in some links if it was actually created and marketed correctly.
Here's some more off the top of my head.
Poker. Create a calculator that allows you to enter a hand, or a series of hands, that then calculates the odds of that hand appearing and winning. If you did some tinkering around with stats on how to bet given specific hands, you'd have something that people would find interesting. They could use it to see if they bet right, statistically. Something like that, that lets the fanatics evaluate their play.
Mortgages - given the meltdown in the US, some sort of calculator that shows the effect of interest rates, value of the house, and your mortgage payments in the future. Something that would let you evaluate risk perhaps - if my house declines in value by X and interest rates go to Y, what happens in 2 years? Or 5 years?
Forex - (I don't know forex, but I think it's a competitive niche). Some sort of calculator that runs against a past dataset that lets them test their pet theory's past performance, if they'd have done it 5,10, 20 years ago.
I don't know or work in any of those markets, so maybe those calculators exist already. And we're supposed to widgetized our examples here - but the example I wanted to show was that even specific competitive and saturated markets have opportunities. The internet market is so young right now that it doesn't matter how dry, overworked, or competitive your niche is. There are still plenty of calculators for someone who does a bit of thinking.
You don't have to cure cancer, just come up with something that people might find a bit cool. Then promote the heck out of it for links. If 1 in 5 people find it neat enough to give you a link and you contact 100 quality websites for a link, you just got 20 top quality relevant one way inbounds. That kind of stuff in my experience will outrank directory and article submissions all day long.
You're in an industry full of fanatics running authority websites that predate the commercialization of the web. I salivate over the link building opportunities you've got.
How hard is it to find some bling that the millions of avid readers can add to their blogs that say 'I'm an avid reader of some sort'? Not hard if you put your mind to it, find something readers will find cool.
Or look at indie bookstores, find something useful they can use. I provided an example in the gifts niche, and that's certainly one people would think doesn't need calculators.
Again, you're not tapped out. You just haven't sat down and thought through specific areas you can target.
Float around the big bookstore websites and the fan sites. See what's out there, see if you can make some small tweak to change it and make it more interesting. "People who bought this dud book also bought these other dud books :)" is an example of something you could use as a seed.
Or, a twist on the giftware idea I noted. Put in an age range and a genre, and out comes 'suggested books'.
I'd like to add that providing value and being a good citizen to people is an untapped rescource, and it can help in areas other than link building. I set up and host websites for 2 people who in return contribute to my main site. Coming from a radio background where you had to get everything on trade, I'm used to hustling and not paying cash.