Global link building sounds very glamourous, like something you’d do wearing Chanel and drinking seriously good wine that I wouldn’t know anything about, not being the glamourous sort. However, it’s something that makes you roll up your French-cuffed sleeves and do some major dirty work. While the basics remain the same (get quality links, write good content, do your usual on-page SEO), there are a few extras to consider that should enable you to live in the middle of nowhere and successfully help clients all over the world.
Let me first clarify what I mean by global link building. I am speaking about working with clients in a variety of countries and/or in languages other than your native one(s). My agency works with clients in the US, Canada, Australia, Spain, the UK, and Germany currently, and about 50% of our leads come from clients outside of the US, where we’re based. As we’ve seen with the recent financial crises both domestic and abroad, it’s obvious that our economy truly is quite global, and many people are quickly realizing that their marketing help does not have to come from less than five miles away.
With that in mind, there are many ways that you can successfully conduct quality link building campaigns for clients in any part of the world. Here are a few to get you started…
Speak their language: Use the native tongue for communications. My agency is lucky enough to have several employees who are fluent in languages other than English. If you aren’t in this position, think about taking a language course (or send some sweet underlings to do it for you.) Just don’t expect everyone on Earth to speak English. Don’t forget that what’s acceptable to say in your culture may be unacceptable in someone else’s, and while we’re on the subject of what not to do, please please please don’t use automatic translators for communicating with site owners or writing content. These never, ever work out the way you want them to. In order to best promote a site that is written in a language other than your own, no matter whether you’re building links or writing good titles, it’s important that you have at least a basic familiarity with the language.
Continue your education: Learn about the culture of the area in which you’re working. This exercise is quite fun and will usually prove itself beneficial in the long-term. Different countries not only have different languages, but they also have different ways of doing almost anything. What’s acceptable in one area may be completely offensive in another area, as you see with everything from hand gestures to the manner in which you address an individual when meeting him or her for the first time. Let’s extrapolate that to link building. If you’re doing the initial contact with someone in another country, it would be quite helpful to understand what will work, and what will immediately turn the person off. Just as with any linking campaign, you also really need to know your subject matter. Nothing’s worse than being approached by someone who obviously hasn’t a clue about what he or she is talking about. If you’re building links for a site that sells watches, learn about horology, then write about it online to bring in links by having unique and interesting content. See the bigger picture. Doing effective long-term link building is always, ALWAYS helped by learning as much as you can about your subject, and, if you have the time, learning about related areas.
Get social: You have friends all over the world on Facebook and MySpace, so use them to help you learn more about where they live. Use Twitter to follow people who live in the target country and are involved in the industry in which you’re working, and strike up online friendships with the goal of simply learning more about different countries and cultures. Forums in the native language are also good places to learn more about your subject and become active in relevant communities. Regardless of whether this provides you with any links, it’s still a great chance to network with like-minded people. Join relevant groups on the various social media sites and promote your content often, never forgetting to read what others are writing.
Don’t go completely native: Don’t put a heavy emphasis on only building links and content in the native language, and don’t only look for link opportunities on sites hosted in the native country. With today’s wealth of people who speak multiple languages, not to mention the fact that many people actually move away from their home country, it’s ridiculous to assume that only Spanish sites should link to your Spanish site.
Blog!: Blogs are sometimes overlooked as a truly great way to build quality inbound links. There are more people than you think who want to talk about where to buy watches in Germany, I bet. There are loads of people out there who want to know where to vacation in small towns in Spain. Once you’ve created a blog with good content, you’ll find that your frequent visitors and commenters will link to it, bringing you relevant traffic from people who visit their sites. Blogs may not always increase your rankings for very competitive phrases, but they are great for driving traffic. Yes, they take work to maintain, but once they get going, they’re great for generating high-quality, relevant links from a variety of sources, and all you have to do is write. Not too difficult, really.
Meme first: Remember memes? They were like chain letters, only slightly more fun. They’re also great for generating links. Once your blog is up and running, start a topical meme and tag your most frequent commenters and visitors (since they may at first be the ones most likely to participate) so that they, in turn, can tag people who might not have visited your blog yet. Since you’re starting the meme, make it clear that anyone who’s tagged later on links to the original piece.
Don’t forget directories: Don’t overlook the power of directories for traffic building, especially niche directories in the country or language you’re targeting. Google recently removed their recommendation for directory submissions (note that they are not, however, saying that directory submissions will in any way harm you), but the fact remains that some people actually do still use them to find something. If there are good directories where a submission makes sense, get busy.
In closing, don’t forget that link building on a global level may require a bit more creativity, but in the end, what matters most is building great content that makes people want to act.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.