I'm going to encourage you to do something that, at the outset will seem impossible. Back away from the keyboard, turn off your computer, and start link building.
I realize that sounds crazy. How is anyone supposed to build links without access to a "send" or "submit" button? How can getting away from the Internet help you online?
See, I've always been a believer in reducing complicated things to their most basic form. In order to do that with link building, you need to get back to the roots of what building links is really about. Not manipulating search engines for rankings, that's the bonus of building links.
Links were originally valued as ranking factors because they signified votes -- a vote of confidence or a vote for merit. So if you boil it down to that, the driving force behind getting links is still quality. It's the quality of your website, content, products and, ultimately, your brand.
And if you have that kind of quality, then you don't need a computer to get links. OK, you might need to print out your research and some contact info before you unplug, but with some names and numbers in hand, you can get links by going off the grid.
If you've ever gotten a phone call disrupting your dinner, you know that the telemarketing industry is still alive and well -- and as annoying as spam, so don't do that. But picking up the phone is a great way to humanize a relatively dehumanizing process.
If you'd like a link from a certain website, stand out from a crowded inbox and put a real voice to the request. Just don't waste anyone's time, including your own. Make sure you have something worth linking to and a logical place on the other person's site that you'd like a link from.
Ma Bell gave us the power to reach out and touch somebody, so use it to get the good links.
Debra Masthaler's ultimate secret to link building is postcards. Communication and brand building are highly important to getting links. Both of these elements are crucial to any site's link building campaign, whether they use computers or carrier pigeons.
With a great brand and something of value to offer, it isn't such a big leap from mailbox to laptop. Online marketers are so accustomed to promoting content through channels like social media and syndication, have we forgotten that word of mouth is more than just sharing links on Facebook and Twitter?
If the time and effort has been put into the creation of resources, why not go about promoting them the old-fashioned way? Sending out flyers or newsletters that physically reach people can be a great way of spreading the word about who you are, what you do, and what your site has to offer.
It isn't at all uncommon to see the words "Link To Us" on a website somewhere. Why not in print?
Speaking of word of mouth, you may have sent out 500 link requests in your day, but how many times have you said the words "Do you think you could link to my site?" out loud, to another person? My guess is not many. But any time you meet someone who owns a website, it's certainly a legitimate question. Or even, "what would it take for you to link to my site?"
Andy Hagans and Aaron Wall put it best: "Leverage new real world relationships into linking relationships." When you're at industry gatherings, conferences, or trade shows, talk to people there with businesses whose products or services are complementary to yours. Talk content, talk value, and talk links. You might have some luck offering exchanges to competitors, because not all link exchanges are bad.
Sure, it's easier to take link rejection via e-mail, where only a frowny emoticon would give away your disappointment. But then again, it's also harder to turn down a good offer face to face.
Most businesses that use "traditional" forms of advertising typically include a web address as part of the ad. It seems that almost every TV, radio, and print ad contains a URL somewhere.
But the focus seems so heavy on just visiting the site, you almost never hear anyone even mention the word "link." Why not? Would it take up so much time or space just to say "Link to us" or "Tell your friends about us with a link!"? Probably not, yet it's pretty uncommon.
Conventional advertising mediums can definitely be an effective way to encourage links or simply just to publicize new online content, products, or promotions. In fact, if you're brave enough to tread into the gray area, you could offer a special discount, coupon, or free gift to people who link to you.
Even if offering linking incentives like that is beyond your guidelines-compliance comfort threshold, there are countless ways to use offline advertising to improve your online presence. Remember this isn't the Ghostbusters versus Slimer -- it's OK to cross the streams.
See the Big Picture
If you've spent what feels like forever on a frenzied quest for links, then maybe it's time to stop and really evaluate what you've been trying to build links to. Who are you? What value do you offer? Why are you worth voting for?
When you can proudly answer those questions, you can build links without your computer. And you just might find that it's only when you get out from behind the little screen that you can really start to see the big picture.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!