Massive Passive Inbound Links
Reading Eric’s column last week reminded me of a successful passive marketing campaign I did several years ago which used almost no traditional link building methods. The client, who sold concrete from a simple ecommerce site, was hesitant to try my “passive” approach, he wanted an old fashioned link building campaign and was willing to spend months and big money to get “good links.” He eventually gave in and allowed me to develop the passive campaign which ended up taking only 90 days and netted 131 “good” one-way links.
Sometimes we get caught up in trying to dream up the next best link scheme and overlook the very simple but effective linking methods. I’m guilty of this as much as anyone, but after the success of the concrete site, I decided to include a passive linking tactic in all our custom work. The decision has been a good one on both the marketing and accountability fronts as this tactic allows us to produce authoritative links, measure results accurately and show a positive return on investment to our clients.
Before you roll your eyes and click away thinking this is going to be one of those “ask your vendors for a link” type posts, hear me out. Granted, there is a bit of “asking” involved but with a twist. Take a look at these two passive link marketing tactics and see if one or more will work for you.
Customers are a built in fan base which can be tapped for repeated promotions as well as link building. Take advantage of their loyalty, send a well crafted email to your best customers and offer the opportunity to try an additional product for free. Be clear and explain there are no strings attached, but you’d appreciate a written review of the product on their blogs/websites.
If they don’t have a blog, point them to your product video on YouTube and/or your Yelp business profile and suggest they leave a review there. Provide an URL to the internal product page but nothing more, let them create their own descriptions and anchors.
Keep an eye on who adds links, YouTube and Yelp comments, send a thank you note to anyone you can identify and include a “pass-along” discount coupon. Hopefully, these brand evangelists will pass the coupon along to someone new who will buy your products and become part of the promotion process.
When I started working with the concrete site, it had been online for a couple of years, and it had been optimized, but was not yet ranking well. Concrete isn’t exactly a sexy topic outside the concrete industry, so I needed to come up with a way to attract attention and links from their small niche and a slightly larger complementary niche.
It wasn’t easy, as construction engineers don’t blog and social media users didn’t seem to be voting up concrete stories, so I was forced to look “outside the box” for a way to get link embedded content distributed. After surveying concrete employees and reading a number of trade publications, I decided to create an incentive program using a very simple item as my hook: t-shirts.
I discovered concrete was a dirty business and ruined workers clothing. Armed with this “dirty” knowledge, we created an industry resource center on the client’s site which featured multiple articles, white papers, images, etc; and included a simple offer on each page: reprint our content on your website/blog, and we’ll send each of your concrete employees a free t-shirt.
Yes, content for t-shirts worked. The t-shirts had funny generic sayings on them so we eliminated the objection of wearing a competitors logo. I sent personalized emails to concrete companies and companies in a couple of complementary niches plus ran ads in association newsletters announcing the offer. After three months, we closed the promotion and counted 131 one-way inbound links from relevant, on-topic pages.
Solid hits don’t come easy
From a linking standpoint, I believe long-term ranking and business success will happen if you secure a wide-range of inbound links from well established web pages. Most of the link building methods you hear about still work and produce results, but sometimes we get so involved in keeping up with the link Joneses we forget the simple, non-technical stuff works. Passive tactics work and can lead to massive relevant links. While you’re using the latest linking tricks out there, keep the passive stuff in mind and in your arsenal of link marketing tactics.
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