If you didn’t already know, links to a website are often considered one of the most important aspects of SEO. Historically this was a strong indicator of a website’s credibility, that was until the spammers learned to manipulate these factors in order to increase rankings. Google had no choice but to penalise these low quality sites with the Penguin algorithm update.
The search engine has made it clear that it does not like these low quality techniques. In fact, they have been saying the same thing in their Google Webmaster Guidelines since around 2002.
So what does Google want to see? It wants to see brands earning recognition for the good work that they do. It wants links to be a representation of a real world relationship or affiliation. They want quality and meaningful search. Here are a few ideas for sustainable methods of “like building”.
You Get What You Give
The truth is, genuine, honest links gained through your credibility are the hardest to achieve, but the most effective are those that are built as a by-product of increasing awareness of a brand.
Do you want to ask someone for a link with commercial intent? Think like a human, not an SEO. Why not do something nice for them first? You will have a chance to demonstrate your knowledge, show that you are a genuine person and you may even pick up a few opportunities along the way. If you help someone out they will be much more willing to do something for you in return.
Give a Presentation/Host a Workshop
This is an ideal opportunity to help others using nothing more than your time. Why not utilise your knowledge and experience to help those that may benefit from it. For example, are you a Project Management consultant? Why not offer to give tips at your next local chamber of commerce event? It shouldn’t take much time to prepare for and it gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject. Plus, you will be at the forefront of their minds when they come looking for a specialist like yourself.
Help Colleges and Universities
Educational establishments often feel disconnected to industry so are usually more than happy to receive help from ‘real life working professionals’. What can you offer them? Your career experience and tips for working in your chosen field. I recently gave a presentation to students at my old college and they just happened to write a blog post on the occasion and link to me. And we all know how much search engines value back links from educational domains.
Create a Student Guide
Students are ready and willing to consume and share content that help them with their studies. If you can share your experience and create something that is helpful you can earn links from very high places.
John Mayall, a UK Patent Attorney created a microsite on patent searching which contained expert advice and a list of links out to other relevant resources. This guide was picked up by Intellectual Property students at Southampton University and eventually passed on to their lecturers who dropped the link on to their resources page. This resulted in a relevant backlink from a trusted, academic resource and most certainly contributed to his business as a legal practitioner.
Donate to Charity
Charities are often considered in the same league as educational domains. Why donate to your chosen good cause? You will get a warm fuzzy feeling and they may even have a dedicated supporters’ page where they can link back to your organisation.
Doing nice things often results in recognition without even asking for it. Our very own Alex Faux recently ran the London marathon for a charity close to his heart, and the team here at Strategy fully backed him with his fundraising efforts. Alex managed to raise over £1,700 for Headway and was interviewed on the local radio. Good karma is a great thing.
Sponsor an Event
Sponsoring a non-profit event within your circles can generate some great exposure and potentially some relevant links. For example, I recently attended the Bath Content Strategy Meetup which would not have been possible without the sponsorship of Gather Content the creators of a content planning tool for Web Teams. Not only does this put their product in front of the people that might use it, it has resulted in a link from Eventbrite and oh… look at that, another one from us too!
Karma is a Metric
So there you have it. 5 ways to deserve recognition and earn some back links.
Now if SEOs could stop spending so much time reverse engineering the latest Google algorithm and focus on earning recognition, they will build ‘links’ to a site but more importantly ‘likes’ to a brand.
Now what is your proudest ever ‘like building’ achievement? Please let us know in the comments.