Building links in boring industries
Fresh out of ideas on how to build links to a boring site? Contributor Jeremy Knauff walks us through his process for creating a successful link-building campaign for even the dullest of sites.
It’s safe to say that most search engine optimization (SEO) practitioners today understand the role that relevant, high-quality links play in achieving organic ranking and traffic.
What is less understood, however, is how to earn those links in sufficient volume to achieve and maintain results — especially when it comes to industries that some may consider boring.
Recently, I was talking with several SEO professionals about some of the most boring industries they’ve had to build links for. We all had a few, but there was one that topped us all with a client in the dumpster rental industry.
Since the dumpster rental business is unique and, some might say, boring, I decided to take on the challenge of figuring out how to build links for a site in that industry and share it here. But this is less about how to build links for that particular industry and more about the thought process that goes into successful link-building campaigns in industries that are on the dull side.
Making the mundane interesting
There are certain industries where it’s infinitely easier to earn links in than others. I think we can all agree that a high-tech product like software is significantly more exciting than something like dumpster rentals, so it’s not much of a stretch to say that earning links for it would be significantly easier.
In the case of dumpster rentals, you could seek links from other dumpster rental companies, which would keep you busy for a while. But to displace the websites currently in the top positions, and then maintain your newfound ranking for the long term, you’ll need links from other sources, too.
The truth is that there are no boring industries, only boring ideas. A creative mind can imagine ways to make even the most mundane topic interesting to the right audience. And therein lies the key: You don’t need to make something interesting to everyone, just to the right people.
Think how your product or service impacts other industries
No industry stands alone, because every industry impacts other industries. This creates a number of link-building opportunities by identifying who uses your products and how they use them and then developing valuable content that serves their needs.
Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
If you’ve ever done a home improvement project, you probably have learned that remodeling results in a lot of waste materials, especially during the demolition phase. As a result, contractors will often rent a dumpster to haul away these materials.
You could write a comprehensive article about choosing the right contractor, complete with all of the resources necessary, such as:
- Links to local code enforcement departments.
- Addresses and phone numbers of local home improvement/building supply stores.
- Link to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation so homeowners can check whether a general contractor is properly licensed.
- Embedded YouTube videos about various home improvement projects to give homeowners a better idea of if they’re better off hiring a general contractor instead of taking the DIY approach.
- Links to local Homeowners Associations.
- Links to websites and apps where homeowners can search for local general contractors.
- Link to the Division of Workers’ Compensation Compliance so homeowners can check if a general contractor has workers compensation insurance.
- Links to organizations that may be able to help homeowners find reliable licensed general contractors, such as chambers of commerce, builders associations and so on.
- Embedded videos or links to current articles about local home improvement trends.
Real estate agents
Thanks to the nature of their business, real estate agents often have relationships with homeowners long before they’ve begun a home improvement project. In some cases, this is because the homeowners must make improvements in order to sell their home in a competitive market, and in other cases, it’s because they want to make improvements after being unable to sell their home.
In either case, these homeowners may need to rent a dumpster to accommodate the waste materials that result from the project. This provides an opportunity to earn links from real estate websites by creating an in-depth article that connects real estate to renovations. Some ideas might include:
- How to decide whether to sell or renovate your home.
- Which home improvement projects offer the greatest increase in home value/potential sale price.
- How to tell when it’s time for a new roof, and what the replacement process entails.
- Trendy home improvement projects (i.e., projects that may hurt the long-term value/potential sale price).
Large outdoor projects, like resodding your lawn, adding flower beds and trimming trees can quickly produce more waste than you can fit in your garbage cans, so just like with remodeling projects, many homeowners will rent a dumpster.
This is another type of project where homeowners can quickly get in over their heads, so it’s a perfect opportunity to create a comprehensive article about choosing the right landscaping company, complete with all of the resources necessary, such as:
- Links to local code enforcement departments.
- Addresses and phone numbers of local home improvement/landscaping supply stores.
- Information about types of plants that thrive in your area, and which types to avoid.
- Link to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation so homeowners can check if a landscaping contractor is properly licensed.
- Embedded YouTube videos about various landscaping projects to give homeowners a better idea of if they’re better off hiring a landscaping contractor instead of taking the DIY approach.
- Links to local Homeowners Associations.
- Links to websites and apps where homeowners can search for local landscaping contractors.
- Link to the Division of Workers’ Compensation Compliance so homeowners can check whether a landscaping contractor has workers’ compensation insurance.
- Links to organizations that may be able to help homeowners find reliable licensed landscaping contractors, such as chambers of commerce, builders associations and so on.
- Embedded videos or links to current articles about local landscaping trends.
How to make it all work
These all present the opportunity for you to create amazing, link-worthy content that’s tremendously valuable to the target audience of companies in industries. In each of these cases, you need to think about how your product or service — or more specifically, how the problem that your product or service solves — impacts other industries. The key to success here is to provide valuable information to their audience in a way that makes your link partners look like the heroes.
Whether it’s content you’re providing for them to publish on their website linking back to your website, either ghostwritten for them or as a guest post in your own name, or it’s content published on your own website that you want them to link to, it must:
- Provide original and valuable information that their audience can use right now, whether they become a customer or not.
- Be mostly about your link partner and their audience, not about you.
- Help to demonstrate the value of your link partner in a clear and meaningful way.
Since you’re targeting website owners who aren’t directly in your own industry, they will tend to be more selective when deciding whether to link to your website. This means that your content has to not only be outstanding but also needs to benefit them in a significant way.
While this may sound like a negative, it actually creates an advantage because it forces you to up your game, creating content that’s so amazing that they can’t help but link to it. While that creates the obvious benefit of helping to earn worthwhile links, it also helps to keep visitors on your website longer.
The beauty of this approach is that earning these type of high-quality links requires a lot of work — work that many of your lazier competitors are less likely to do.
It also creates a scenario where everyone — you, your link partner and their audience — wins. And the links you earn tend to be the type of high-quality links that not only move the needle in terms of SEO results but also offer value from a branding and referral traffic standpoint.
Enlist the support of industries that serve your industry
So far, we’ve talked about leveraging other industries that might be impacted by yours, but let’s also look to those who serve your industry. It’s in their best interest for your company to do well, because that means you’ll need more of their products and/or services.
In this case, that might include:
- Dumpster manufacturers.
- Manufacturers of the specialized trucks and equipment used to transport these dumpsters.
- Truck driving schools, because drivers of the vehicles used to transport these dumpsters require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
- Workplace drug-testing companies, because commercial drivers must submit to DOT drug testing.
- Local waste collection facilities and dump yards.
- Welding and fabrication shops that repair these dumpsters.
- Local nurseries, which often accept or even buy yard waste to make compost and mulch.
Because of the day-to-day operations of a dumpster rental business, you likely already have relationships with several local contacts in the industries I just listed. From there, it’s relatively easy to ask your contacts for introductions to other people in those industries outside your local area. LinkedIn is a great tool for mining these types of opportunities. Simply comb through the connections of your existing contacts looking for people who either work at or own companies that are somehow relevant to dumpsters.
Let’s say I wanted to connect with people who manufacture the trucks and equipment used to transport dumpsters to identify link-building opportunities. I would find one or more contacts who do that and then ask for an introduction to as many of their LinkedIn connections as I felt comfortable asking for — maybe three to five at the most, because you don’t want to take more value than you’re providing.
Once you have a few mutual contacts, it becomes significantly more effective to send a connection request directly to their other connections whom you feel might be a worthwhile link building opportunities.
You can even take this a step further, getting outside of your own network, by connecting with contributors of the trade publications in these industries.
If you’re going to take this approach, it’s good to plant a seed by first sharing on social media, or better yet, linking to something of theirs before asking them to link to your website.
Ruffle some feathers
There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and while it’s not entirely true, it does have some merit.
Publicity– both positive and negative — obviously creates exposure, and it also often helps to earn links. Controversy is a simple and effective way to generate publicity. Fortunately, you don’t need to go full-on “Roseanne” mode to generate that kind of publicity. You just need to push the envelope a bit.
While dumpsters are not a very controversial product, you can find creative ways to tie them to other topics in a controversial way, to generate publicity and links. In today’s society, it seems like people are constantly hunting for things to be offended by, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get them riled up.
Here are a few potential article titles:
- 5 Tampa Historical Buildings That Should Be Demolished Today.
- Dumpster Diving for Fun and Profit — How to Live Like a King on Other Peoples’ Trash.
- 3 Home Renovation Television Show Episodes That Went Horribly Wrong.
- XYZ Dumpster Rentals Offers Free Dumpsters to Store [insert name of political candidate]’s Campaign Promises.
- 7 Hollywood Careers That Are Indistinguishable From the Trash in Our Dumpsters.
- You’re Better Off Living in a Dumpster Than These 5 Cities — Is Yours One of Them?
The key is to find ways to connect dumpsters to topics that people are intensely passionate about. Famous people, politics, the city they live or grew up in and so on.
Make it personal, get outside of your comfort zone, be ridiculous, and don’t be afraid to offend some people. If you’ve done your job well, there will be critics, and some of them will be very vocal. That’s OK, because you’ll earn links, often from authoritative media websites, that will live on long after the manufactured outrage has died down.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.