Though some people have tried to undermine their relevance recently, building genuine, high-quality backlinks to your site remains a major factor influencing your site’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings. The problem is you might not always have the time to create (or steal) new content to generate links.
Don’t worry if that’s the case. To help you improve your search ranking without spending hours creating new content we created this guide. Here’s a list of seven unusual link building strategies to help you bag some backlinks and improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
Pranks aren’t just for April Fool’s Day. Arguably one of our most unusual link building strategies, implementing a well-executed prank or parody is a guaranteed way to trigger a backlink bonanza for your site.
Take the infamous Ivar’s Billboard Hoax of 2009. A Seattle-based seafood joint claimed its original owner installed billboards at the bottom of the ocean so future patrons travelling in personal submarines would see them and resurface for refreshment. This wasn’t true, of course. The boards had been put there intentionally as a publicity stunt (it worked!).
If you plan to take this approach, forward-thinking and meticulous planning are key. Be sure to gauge all possible reactions of your audience and the wider public and beware of a bad publicity backlash. Your prank should be funny and perhaps even controversial but should not be offensive or distasteful. If done right, the potential for backlinks triggered by a slick strategic stunt is limitless.
See here for how not to do it.
A backlink from an influential person in your field is the marketing holy grail. Most industry experts and influencers use video content such as vlogs, webinars and tutorials. If a recognised figure in your industry has video content that isn’t transcribed, do it yourself! Then offer your transcription to the owner who will hopefully backlink to your site. Another of our more unusual link building strategies but one that’s incredibly effective if done right.
They’re smart, they’re broke, and sometimes, they blog. It’s a little-known fact that many universities offer their students a blog platform on the university’s own domain. This provides the perfect resource for some easy backlinks and an influx of traffic.
Find out which unis have blogs and ask the students to link to your site for remuneration (the further away from loan day, the better). You get backlinks and they earn a few bucks whilst hitting the books.
Not sure where to start? Try a Google search with the “ac.uk” and “blog” keywords to see which schools are potential targets. Facebook is your friend. Limit a search to a specific university network, or try posting on the relevant student Facebook groups.
You can also post adverts on sites like Craigslist, Gumtree, Reddit or Save the Student. However you do it, used efficiently, reaching out to student bloggers is an unusual but lucrative link building strategy.
You can write the perfect content that’s witty, informative and grammatically-correct but even the highest quality content can get lost amongst all the other black and white words on the net.
Science proves that humans react and process writing more when accompanied by graphics and colours, see this article for more info on the psychology of colour. Not the creative type? Get a graphic designer on board to help you put colour into your content and generate the backlinks your monochrome content can’t.
This is arguably the simplest of our unusual strategies to generate backlinks. If you have high-quality image content on your site, search for and rectify any uncredited usage of your images. This strategy won’t be an option for all your image content. You must own the copyright and qualifying images include infographics, illustrations and diagrams.
Run a Google image or Tineye search to find out where your images are being used and by whom (click here for Google’s guide). Then visit the sites generated by the search and check for a link back to your site. The search should look like this:
There’s usually no malice meant if you’re not properly credited. Send a message to the site owner and claim back what’s rightfully yours. Another backlink for the books!
One unusual strategy to generate high-quality links and traffic is to create a job posting board to advertise new opportunities in your industry. Alternatively, you could set up a forum on your website. Problogger, a job posting site for blogging and content jobs, is just one of many successful examples of the potential of this unusual but highly effective link building strategy.
This strategy does require time and effort at first but once up and running you can leave it to do its thing and watch the backlinks build up. As momentum builds and more jobs are posted on your board, your traffic increases and so does your SERP ranking.
As you can see from the picture above. Problogger has definitely built up a backlink portfolio to behold.
You could try reaching out to university Careers centres and ask them to advertise your resource creating even more potential for high-grade traffic opportunities.
People like to win. It’s human nature. Running a competition, contest or giveaway is the perfect way to bag guaranteed backlinks from prize-hungry internet users. The possibilities are endless, but the most common examples include quizzes, picture contests, caption competitions and games. The more innovative and unusual your idea, the better.
If executed properly (click here for a really useful guide), contests and campaigns can be incredibly powerful backlink-generators. If you’re lucky enough to have a campaign go viral, the buzz around your brand will last way beyond the competition’s closing date. Who’s the real winner?
Beware of adhering closely to relevant competitions and market regulations. You don’t want to risk falling foul of the law in your quest for backlinks. See this article for general guidance about the law in this area.
Nick Brown is the founder & CEO of accelerate agency, a SaaS SEO agency. Nick has launched several successful online businesses, writes for Forbes, published a book and has grown accelerate from a UK agency to a company that now operates across US, APAC and EMEA and employs 160 people. He was also once charged at by a mountain gorilla