Digital PR and link-building is an evolving industry, so what worked a few years back may not necessarily work today. Last year, I wrote a piece, " 7 Creative Link-Building Techniques To Improve Your Website SEO" where I detailed techniques such as building helpful tools for your industry, targeting journalists through Facebook ads and turning copyright violations into linking opportunities.
Although many of these techniques remain applicable today, I recently queried entrepreneurs about the other strategies they've been using to build high-authority links to their websites. Here are their takeaways -- and several updates to my previous post on this topic:
1. Employ the 'scholarship' effect.
One of the most popular trends in recent times has been scholarships. This is a variation of the "local sponsorships" strategy I mentioned in my earlier piece -- only much more effective. The scholarship angle basically works like this: Each year, your business announces an amount ranging between $500 and $1,000 in scholarship funding for students in your local community.
This announcement gets posted on the "External Scholarship Opportunities" pages of all your local university websites; and, as a result, you earn valuable .edu links to your website. Brian Stumbaugh from the Startup Garage says that his company routinely secures as many as 40-to-50 links to each of its client websites through this technique.
2. Do journalists' legwork for them.
This is one of the most legitimate ways to earn coverage from high-authority websites. The technique involves studying the types of "interesting" stories that get covered by specific media outlets and then creating your own unique studies and research work that journalists from these outlets find interesting.
Marcus Roberts, owner of Mirador Wealth, a financial advisor firm, recounts a recent study his team members worked on where they asked 100 random people from each of the 50 American states how they would spend $1 million. The results from the study were interesting enough to earn media coverage from the likes of Huffington Post, Investopedia and MarketWatch.
3. Correct any misinformation.
As a bootstrapped entrepreneur, you may not have sufficient resources to get quoted on large media outlets. But you could, however, use your expertise to correct misinformation on those publications and win credit for it. Eric Brantner from CutCableToday told me he recently discovered a few discrepancies in a GeekWire post and wrote a blog post with the corrected information. He subsequently shared that blog with the writer at GeekWire.
This promptly earned him a link from the original article that pointed to his article on the same topic. To standardize this process, Brantner recommends creating a Google Alert for all your standard industry terms so that you'll be notified of the latest industry articles. This way, each time you come across an article that contains incorrect information, you can write a blog post with the correct information on your website. Next: Notify the original authors about the errors on their page.
4. Target the 'media mentions' page.
A number of product startups have a press or "media mentions" page, where they proudly share links to all the rave reviews that their product has received from different users. According to digital marketing strategist Kevin O' Brien, a great way to build links is to review such products on your website and notify the target company of the new review. O'Brien points out to a review of Quuu, a social-media enhancement tool, which earned his company a mention on the Quuu Press page.
5. Don't forget HARO.
Unlike the other ideas mentioned above, the Help a Reporter Out service to earn links is a pretty widely known strategy. But how effective is HARO? Last year, Kari DePhillips, the owner of The Content Factory, ran an experiment where she "went hard at HARO"; the result was that out of 21 pitches, she was able to get quoted and linked 11 times in all (not to mention the link from this very article that happened after she responded to my HARO query).
DePhillips points out that while it is difficult to put a dollar value on the effort, the 100-plus links she has acquired through HARO over six years has significantly contributed to the success of her company's online content strategy.