What Are Some Post-Google Penguin, Budget-Friendly Link Ideas?

The Missing Link

"The Missing Link" is a Search Engine Watch exclusive reader-driven Q&A column with veteran content publicist Eric Ward. You can ask questions about all aspects of links and link building and Eric will provide his expert answers. Submit your questions here, or via SEW's Twitter, Facebook, or Google+(use the hashtag #missinglink) accounts, and you may be featured in a future installment!

With the latest Penguin 2.0 update many sites have seen rankings drop for keywords that they used to be steady on for a long time. My question is what links should the smaller guy/company be aiming to get when they don't have as big a budget like the bigger corporate sites who have seen an even bigger boost with Penguin 2.0? I know this is a generic question, but I'm sure its one that's on the mind of most small business and site owners who don't have the money to pay for as much content or as costly links as those bigger companies can. So it would be great to get some feedback from you about where people with a small content, link and SEO budget in general can and should be looking for links that will last these Penguin updates!

– No Money, No Rankings

Oh how I would love to tell you there is a specific set of steps you could follow that would solve your problems. But the truth is much different.

First and foremost, you have to really get a handle on the reality that many of the high rankings of yesterday are gone forever. They are not coming back based on some new style of link building. They likely will not come back period, unless you completely change your mindset for how you go about marketing your business, and the role your website should play in that process.

So here's the best way for me to answer this question. The small sites that have a chance to recover and succeed going forward are going to be highly topical/specialized sites that have a unique aspect to them that sets them apart, where the business owners recognize that uniqueness, and know how turn it into links.

  • You are a minority female owned business? That opens you up to a world of links that others can't get, like http://www.sba8a.com/
  • You're based in Virginia? Go do this: http://www.dmbe.virginia.gov/
  • Do you do business with institutions? Become an approved vendor and that opens you up to link opportunities like this http://blandy.virginia.edu/facilities-use/approved-vendor-list

The main point I hope to make here is that links were never supposed to be thought of in terms like "what will Google think about this link?"

Right now you have the chance to make a shift in how you expose your business on the web. While others are grasping at the next link scheme, you can create something sustainable.

Whether you sell hang gliding lessons or piano lessons, you must recognize how to take what you do and turn it into a completely unique link profile.

About the author

Eric Ward founded the Web's first link building and content publicity service, called NetPOST. Today, Eric provides strategic linking consulting, link building services, training, and consulting via EricWard.com. The publisher of the strategic linking advice newsletter LinkMoses Private, Eric is a co-developer of AdGooroo's Link Insight.

Eric uses his experience and unique understanding of web's vast linking patterns to teach companies his link building techniques. He has developed content linking strategies for PBS.org, WarnerBros, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, About.com, TVGuide.com, and Weather.com. Eric won the 1995 Tenagra Award for Internet Marketing Excellence, and in 2007 was profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes.