Did you know there’s only 261 shopping days left before Christmas? That might seem like a crazy thing to worry about in April but you know what they say, the early bird gets the link.
Using the holidays to attract links is fun, good for trend watching, and an excellent opportunity to generate positive publicity. Between now and December there are at least ten (non-religious) major holidays and special event seasons to take advantage of, not to mention hundreds of “National Cause Month” celebrations.
Developing creative linking tactics around holidays is a great way to link outside the box and approach industry authority sites you’ve not been able to penetrate. It’s pretty hard to turn down a hilarious wedding video or a two-part series on “How To Survive Your Future Mother In Law” during the months of May and June.
Let’s take a look at a handful of tried and true linking tactics and incorporate the holiday angle. Some of these ideas will only appeal to certain market segments, but overall you should be able to find something that works for what you sell.
April is for… PPC??
Typically April showers brings May flowers, but in link building it also brings paid ad campaigns. One of the secrets to making seasonal linking campaigns work is the use of paid ads to drive visitors to targeted landing pages. These pages host your promotion, which includes an incentive/request to link. Of course, you don’t have to set them all up in April but it’s good to set a budget and plan early so your campaigns run smoothly throughout the year. Keep in mind paid ads can be search engine ads (like Adwords), text link ads, image ads, classifieds, or even email reminders. The trick is to find the best places to host them and not worry about their ability to pass link popularity.
In fact, try to find places to advertise so link popularity isn’t an issue. These ads are going to look like, sound like, and be placed in advertising areas, which makes them easy to spot and devalue. Don’t waste energy trying to make them sweeten your link juice. Get over the paid link issue and use these ads for what they can be – great advertising tools.
Link Bait is the Big Daddy of Holiday Linking
Writing funny or sentimental articles and releasing them up to a month before the target holiday is one of the best ways to secure inbound links from sites in similar niches as well as article directories. Webmasters and online publishers actively looking for seasonal material search out these articles and use them. Be sure you keep an eye on who’s downloading your content from the directories, contact site owners that do, and offer unique and personalized content for future promotions.
Newspapers and television stations look for holiday material as well and love to play it up from a human interest angle. Keep in mind you have a better chance of being picked up by the wire services if you incorporate a national holiday in your promotions, especially if they fall on a weekend. Once Wall Street closes or politicians stay home, publications become content light and the media looks for “filler” material. Video works especially well in these cases. Create several holiday VNR’s (video news release) showcasing your services, stick them on the video sites, and promote them via press release.
Of course, we can’t talk about link bait and not mention the social media sites. Submit your most newsworthy and/or funniest holiday linkbait to social news sites such as Digg, Mixx, Fetch, plus your niche sites several days before the holiday. Each of the social media sites attracts a different audience, so research thoroughly to see which holiday articles went “hot” in the past and write yours along a similar theme.
It’s a very good idea to befriend a number of bloggers in your niche and offer yourself as a guest blogger throughout the year. This will allow you to write posts that take advantage of holidays and special event seasons when visitors are caught up in the spirit of the holidays and hopefully generous with piggyback links.
Take note of who comments on your posts and, if possible, follow them to their blogs. If there’s a fit, make a point to get in touch and offer yourself or your content for use. At the very least, comment on their blogs and keep the karma going.
Everyone’s a Winner!
The great thing about running contests is they work for any product at any time of the year. But if you want to narrow it down and attract links from a certain segment, tie the contest to a special event season that hosts a similar demographic.
For example, anyone selling products and services geared toward children can run a back to school promotion and pay for ad space in any publication/portal with the same demographic. Here’s where creating targeted landing pages can come in: Offer the contest promotion plus an additional incentive if they link to your website. When you’re searching for ad space, take care to look at private and governmental organizations focused on education and children; these are usually strong and targeted links and work well with back to school promotions.
For the B2B crowd who often find it hard to secure links, this contest angle works especially well. Most large industries have some sort of “National Day” you can piggyback off of and create a contest with. If the idea of setting up a contest seems overwhelming, just offer a link promotion in conjunction with your “National Day” or “National Month“.
Don’t miss an opportunity to gain attention from the press when you support a “National Month” or develop a contest. Launch a press release announcing the promotion and offer to have your CEO available for interviews. Journalists love to chat with CEOs and almost always run with the story.
Hopefully something here has sparked a holiday link building idea you can use. Get started by sitting down and writing out all the holidays you feel correspond with your products. Don’t forget to include holiday promotions for customers living outside your native land — it’s another opportunity to grow your brand and your links.
- Flowers and gift baskets = Boxing Day and Mother’s Day
- Snow tires = ski season
- Pet products = National Pet Month
- Sports related = Father’s Day.
You get the idea. Of course, it should go without saying that none of these tactics will work without high quality content. Find a good copywriter and spend time researching what’s done well in past. Those two efforts above all others will go a long way to making your link building efforts a success.
Before I Sign Off, a Personal Note
Today is a special “holiday” for me. This column marks my one year anniversary as a guest writer here at Search Engine Land. It’s been a great ride and a pleasure to share column space with Eric and Rae and to work with my editor Vanessa. While link building is fun and comes easily to me, writing doesn’t, so my time here has been a labor of love and a terrific learning experience.
Thank you Danny and Chris for giving me this opportunity and letting me stick around — I appreciate it.
Debra Mastaler offers link training and custom link building campaigns through her Williamsburg Virginia based firm Alliance-Link. She is also the author of the link building blog The Link Spiel. The Link Week column appears on Tuesdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.