7 Real Life Ways to Build Links

The majority of the time when we’re discussing link building, we focus on things like outreach, content strategy, tools and, in general, ways we can acquire links online. Which makes perfect sense since links are… well, online. But what about the offline, or “in real life” opportunities?

According to a recent survey featured on eMarketer, the average American spends a little over three hours per day online. That leaves quite a bit of time not spent on the Internet. That also leaves quite a bit of time to get out and build links through live events, partnerships and the magic, link-building word… relationships.

relationship building pyramid

Thanks to Eric Enge for the visual.

Getting out and participating beyond the computer screen can result in links just as easily, if not more easily, than through online methods. Plus, you give yourself the chance to meet people who may be able to help your business in new ways. Below are a few places to start.

Local Events

Have you ever spent hours poring over a document, only to find you overlooked a simple misspelling? Sometimes, you can just be too close to a project. The same thing applies to link building. Even when we look for basic opportunities like brand mentions or broken links, we oftentimes don’t look at what’s right around us… the things we can physically go do.

Here in Boston, there’s a marketing or business event almost every night, and while that may not be the case in every town across the country, there are most likely monthly or quarterly events worth attending. Even better, these events may offer a way to get your company a new link.

Meetup & EventBrite

Many local events are organized through the Meetup platform or through EventBrite. Meetup allows you to set up a personal profile that lists your website and social profiles, while EventBrite offers the option to include your website in your RSVP (that link is followed, by the way).

Eventbrite Company Link

When RSVPing to an event through either of these platforms, make sure you fill out your website information.

Event Interviews

We know that people love being talked about, right? Even more so, we know that people will share something or link to something they (or someone they like) are featured in. Events are a great place to interview someone in your industry or someone relevant to you or to your clients’ business.

Take, for example, the live interview Eric Enge did with Matt Cutts at SMX Advanced in June. At the time this post was written, Eric’s post, which recaps the interview, had 164 comments and ~1,200 links according to Open Site Explorer. While we may all not be able to score a high-profile interview like this one, it shows the link building power a good interview can offer.

A couple months ago, I also mentioned looking for opportunities to be interviewed at events. I’m not going to rehash the details but take a look at the post for ideas on finding interview opportunities for yourself, your team, or your clients.

Host Your Own Event

One of the things happening in Boston, particularly in the tech world, is a boom in company-hosted events. Hubspot has started its own conference, several tech companies teamed up to create the Wicked Good Ruby Conference, and Fresh Tilled Soil holds its Fresh Talk events.

Hosting an event presents a terrific networking opportunity for the host business, is good for the brand, and can result in links. Each of these events mentioned above is also listed in (and linked to from) EventBrite, BostInno (a local tech publication), Boston.com, Conferize, and so on.

Want an even better idea for hosting an event? Host an event and broadcast it through Google+ Hangouts On Air. The Raleigh SEO Meetup does this every month, enabling them to hold a local event, reach non-local SEOs, and boast a membership of 1,700 people. That could translate into a lot of links!


The great thing about local event sponsorships is that they are pretty affordable, and you tend to get more direct exposure than you would at a larger conference. Take the Boston chapter of the American Marketing Association:

Boston AMA Sponsors

The sponsors are linked to from the Boston AMA website, they are mentioned through the AMA social media accounts, and they are featured at all events. For the cost of what one large event might run you, you can sponsor a local event or organization for a year and get a ton of links.

Which brings us to our next offline method….

Join An Organization

Similar to attending an event, professional organizations offer both networking and potential link opportunities.

Chamber Of Commerce

One of the easiest and most beneficial organizations to join is your local Chamber of Commerce. After all, the goal of any chamber is to support local businesses and help them be successful in the community. For link building purposes, Chamber of Commerce sites also typically have online member directories that include links:

Chamber of Commerce Link

Alumni Organizations

If there’s one thing I can say about my college, it’s that they love promoting successful alumni. From the cover of the monthly magazine to the website, there are always alumni being discussed.

They are also often looking for stories. Our alumni site runs wedding announcements, announces career changes, recaps local alumni events, and features business successes.

Check out your own college’s alumni site to see how you can submit your news. Also be on the lookout for alumni directories. You never know what information they’ll let you submit.

To find other organizations that fit your business, check out LinkedIn. See what organizations your employees, customers, partners, and even competitors are a part of. There might be something that’s just right for your company.

Ask Your Offline Friends

While asking your friends may seem like a simple piece of advice, your offline friends can often times turn out to be a huge help.

According to a recent Pingdom article, there are over 87 million Tumblr blogs and 59 million WordPress sites. On top of that, Facebook and Twitter are boasting a combined 1.38 billion monthly users. Where are your friends?

Aaron Friedman wrote a great piece back in December discussing how he learned about a Facebook friend’s blog:

“A friend of mine, Robyn Burgher, is a clinical consultant at NorthShore Pediatric Therapy in Chicago. She also runs their website and social media efforts. Needless to say, she is busy.

I notice on Facebook that she started a new blog called Little Red Mommy Hood. Didn’t really give it a second thought until I saw her posting how she had 300 views in the first hour, and 500 after the second.”

Aaron didn’t know that his friend had a blog, and he certainly didn’t know how successful it was.

When you have an announcement about your business or something you feel is important, don’t hesitate to talk to your offline friends. My friends seem to find SEO fascinating and are always willing to help when needed. A tweet here, a Facebook post there, and a mention on their blog I didn’t even know existed, can be a big help.

At the end of the day, link building is tough. While we talk a lot about how to do it, we don’t often talk about getting out of the office to do so. So whether you are attending an event, joining a new organization, or talking to your friends about your latest project, know that links are everywhere… you just have to look for them.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | How To | How To: Links | Link Week Column


About The Author: is the Director of Online Marketing at KoMarketing Associates, a B2B Internet marketing firm based in Boston, MA. She has been in the search industry for eight years and loves all things Internet-related.

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  • PurpleFish Marketing

    Great article! Sometimes we forget about these “offline” real world options to talk to and interact with other people.

  • Max Prokell

    All of these are great, actionable link building recommendations. I really like the alumni one. Thanks Casie.

  • Courtney Gordner

    Great article, Casie! I’m curious, though, how many successful links have you built using this technique?

  • Peter Watson

    Top article, but I couldn’t help but notice all of the followed external links using optimized anchor text. What gives????

  • Slapshot Studio

    Nice point regarding local chamber… that is something often overlooked for many freelance seo and web designers… at least that’s my opinion. Thanks again!

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    Live, in-person events are great sources of link building opportunities. I’m a big fan of recap blog posts, and if you attend an event with speakers it’s a great way to give them a shout out and (hopefully) get some shares and links in return. Plus, it’s fantastic information that you didn’t have to wrack your brain to come up with!

  • http://www.TheeDesign.com/ TheeDesign Studio

    Awesome tips! We just started hosting our own seminars, hopefully it create awesome linkbuilding activity for us!

  • http://casiegillette.com Casie Gillette

    Haha exactly! Crazy what can happen when we leave the computer :)

  • http://casiegillette.com Casie Gillette

    Thanks Max! It’s funny because before I was doing search I got my alumni magazine I remember thinking hey, how do these people get in here?! :)

  • http://casiegillette.com Casie Gillette

    Thanks Courtney! I’d like to think quite a few. I know that I personally always make sure to fill out event RSVPs with my company information and often for clients, we’ll do a tradeshow/event link analysis to ensure they are taking advantage of the link opportunities presented.

  • http://casiegillette.com Casie Gillette

    I’m not sure what you mean optimized anchor text but I always make sure that the text I’m linking from describes/is relevant to what the page will be. Better for users and looks way better then just putting in the hyperlink or saying (visit here) or (click here).

  • http://casiegillette.com Casie Gillette

    Great point Nick. Recaps are a truly great way to get links. And being from Boston, I know you’re an event guy! You are everywhere! :)

  • Peter Watson

    I’m referring to exact match anchors. Google has made no confusion on this topic and that exact match (optimized) anchors in articles, press releases, etc are a big no, no.

  • http://casiegillette.com Casie Gillette

    I think it’s a numbers game. If every single link of the web is using that specific text it’s suspicious…if an article here or there has exact match, meh. That’s the great thing about search though, we all have our methods, opinions, and are willing to try different things!

  • Peter Watson

    Yeah that’s true. Each to their own I guess. I used to be of the opinion that a few optimized anchors here and there wouldn’t hurt, but I stay right away from that stuff now. My site has been able to achieve #1 and #2 rankings for some fairly competitive terms without using those terms as anchors at all. The proof is in the pudding for me.

  • Keith James

    John Wall just did a great interview with David Spark. One of my key takeaways was the use of event interviews. David explained that he could get access to more people when he interviewed them at events. Instead of having to go to them separately, he would just interview them at a single event they all attended. By doing so he was able to avoid a lot of gatekeepers.

  • Courtney Gordner

    Hi Casie! Interesting-never thought about trying to get links from tradeshows. I guess with the amount of industry coverage it would be a great opportunity. Thanks for taking the time to comment back.

  • http://casiegillette.com Casie Gillette

    Excellent point Keith! Not only do you avoid the gatekeepers, but you avoid having to be fit in their already busy schedule or your email getting lost in the shuffle.


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