Posted by Aaron Wheeler

 Happy new year, mozzerati! Another year, another 52 Whiteboard Fridays to be had. I don’t know about you, but I’m totally pumped to see what the whiteboards have in store for us this year! You may notice a new and friendly banjo-pickin’ Roger in the beginning of this week’s video, and you’d be quite apt in doing so. Our intro graphics have definitely taken a turn for the snappier this year – let us know what you think in the comments.

As for this week’s video, Rand is going to show you some great ways to start the new year out right by getting those links you so desperately crave yet, time and time again, are tragically denied. You can do a lot for yourself by simply making a personal connection, openly communicating with your peers, and making other people’s jobs a bit easier. After watching, if you think of any other ways you’re able to garner these hard-to-get links, please share in the comments below!

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Video Transcription

Howdy, SEO fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re dealing with a particularly tough problem, which is when you’ve got a link target that’s extremely hard to approach, difficult to get a link from. You think to yourself, boy, this is a high-value link target. They’ve got good metrics, good rankings. The link could send me some good visitors and I want to get that brand linking to me. I think it is a trusted domain, and I that it is going to help me in the rankings. A lot of times those tough few dozen or couple dozen links can really push you over the edge in the rankings for particular things. So, I wanted to discuss some creative ways to get links from reluctant targets.

Now, first off, let me just say that I hope this situation doesn’t happen. It shouldn’t be the case that you first ask for a link and then get turned down. If you think the situation is going to be tough, you want your first impression, that first effort to feel very natural and organic. In fact, it should be natural and organic. They should link to you because they want to link to you because you actually have something to provide that’s helpful. That’s exactly what these ways are. So, hopefully, you don’t get that, "No way I am linking to your site."

So, first off, some creative tactics. Number one, the testimonial. One of the really interesting things that we’ve seen on the Web is that people, companies of all kinds are desperate for testimonials, particularly ones that do a few things. Number one, they come with a photo. Someone is willing to send a photo of themselves. They are willing to have their full name, their title, and the company they are associated with. There are so many anonymous testimonials that people have stopped believing in those. They worry like, "Hmm, is that an actor? Is that stock photography, or is this a real person?" They’ve been hard pressed to find people who will leave them testimonials that answer the specific item that they want. If your company provides online surveys and there are a lot of people who are really worried about security and someone leaves a testimonial that says, "Hey, I’m the CTO at a security company and this survey product I always feel secure because I checked out their stuff and I know that I can feel safe using them." Great. That’s terrific. That’s precisely the kind of testimonial that you want.

Number two, the social connection. This is the idea that building up a relationship through Facebook or Twitter. Twitter is particularly powerful for this in building professional relationships. So is LinkedIn. By retweeting your target, by following them, by engaging with them in conversation regularly, by commenting on their blogs, by participating in their communities, you can make yourself known and typically build that relationship that will eventually lead to the link. The great part about this is you’re getting way more than the link. If you think this is a brand that can really help you, a person that can really help you personally and professionally, this is a great thing to do anyway. That is the case with a lot of these. If you really endorse a brand, being able to say nice things about them is a great way to pay it forward and hopefully get some of that in return. Doing the social connection is a great way to build up that relationship.

The next one, the in-person connection, relies on just the same philosophy and methodology. The idea being that you go to the places where you know your target audience is going to be, the people that you’re trying to get links from. You go to those conferences. You go to those events. Even if you think, "Well, they’re not customers. They’re just sort of people that I want to partner with." If they’re people that you want to partner with and get links from online, they’re probably people who talk to and mingle with and can help your business in offline ways as well. This is exactly what the search engines are trying to mimic with their link graphs. So, going to these events, going out to dinner, I don’t know why it’s one of those medieval long tables and they’re both at two ends, but yeah, I guess not quite as friendly a dinner as I thought. Picking up the check. These are great things. When two people reach for the check and you say, "No, no, I got this one, but maybe, you know, just link to me sometime on your site." Great way to end a conversation, and the person will always, "Oh, yeah, sure. No problem. A link. Phew!" You pick up the dinner. It is a $25 to $50 link, easy. Well, depends on which bottle of wine you get I suppose.

Next one, the press piece. Interestingly, and probably not surprisingly, when press writes about you, when they say particularly nice things about you and they do interviews of you or they have you on a radio program, they interview you for a blog or those kinds of things, you can mention that third party. Link to the target over here in that blog post where you’re getting interviewed. Mention them in that radio interview. Talk about their business a little bit. It feels very selfless to them, and it is very likely to get you that link. The mention of you in the press, whether it is a big press piece or an industry press piece or just a blog press piece, is also one of those things where when you ping them and you remind them, "Hey, we were in this press piece. I talked about you," and those kinds of things, it fulfills that mentality of is this a trustworthy business. This builds enough trust to where the linking target can feel like, "Oh yeah, linking to them is probably a really good idea anyway because they’re a solid brand, solid website."

Last but not least, the missing content piece. This is one of the ones that I really love quite a bit for multiple reasons. First off, the idea is that your target probably has content they wish that they had on their website. That could be a report, a survey, a blog post, some infographics, a data set, a tool, whatever that thing is that they’re wishing. Right now I’m wishing there were a hundred different kinds of reports and research papers I wish people would publish on SEOmoz and submit to SEOmoz. I know a lot of people do. That’s fantastic. But what I am saying is that missing content piece, if you can ID what those are, talk to your contact and say, "Hey, I can write those, build those, etc., for you," when they put that piece up, they’re going to link to it well. Externally it will likely get linked to well. You’ll have a link from there as the content developer, the author, the builder of that. Now, what’s beautiful is two things. Number one, you’ve gotten a link from your target. Great. Number two, you’ve built a relationship with the target, also great. Number three, people who are coming to that page, who are externally saying, "Wow, this is a really good resource," you’re the person who authored it. They’re going to give credit certainly to the company that hosts it, but as the author you’ll get some credit as well and you’ll get traffic from that. That traffic could be interested in what you do. It could be potentially people who will link more to you and identify you when they link to the initial piece of content.

It is just a beautiful synergy here that is happening, really with all of these tactics. That’s why I love that creativity, that outside the box kind of thinking as opposed to a, "Well, you know what, I’m just going to link spam." This methodology just works so much better.

All right, everyone. I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We will see you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by SpeechPad.com

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