Often link building is referred to as fishing. In some respects that is correct. You need to find the places the fish are gathered, try to get their attention with the bait and hope they bite. Another approach is to hunt for those high-value links. Why settle for small links in a stream, when you can hunt for trusted links with more substance, power and trust. Thereby maximizing your return for time invested.
From personal experience, I can attest a handful of highly-trusted links will do more for rankings than a hundred low-value links. I have witnessed this time and time again since 2002, ranging from the travel industry to home & garden sites. In additional, trusted links tend to pass trust more quickly as they age and they are less likely to be devalued by search engines.
The question remains what are the best hunting grounds for trusted links for long-term success. They are easier to find than you can imagine. First, ask yourself where you would find information or references if search engines did not exist. How did people find information before the Internet went mainstream? Those are the precise places that offer some of the best hunting grounds for trusted links. These places also help to place your company in trusted link neighborhoods and associations (also referred to as co-citation). The more your company's link profile mimics that of an authority or resource site the better it will rank in the long term. We all know how Google loves to rank authority sites highly.
One added benefit is links from those places can provide an invaluable source of traffic. This will help to diversify your traffic and not be so dependant on search engines.
Going on a Hunting ExpeditionNow you probably want specific places to start your link hunting expedition. Here are four good places to start your hunt for those high-trusted links that will assist to develop a healthy link profile of trusted neighborhoods and associations.
Industry OrganizationsThere are several opportunities for trusted links on industry group Web sites. The easiest ones provide links from their membership directory or sponsor's page. Some still sell good old fashion advertising with links (shh...don't tell our good friends at Google!)
Next examine the resource section of the site. What type of resources are they linking out to? Does your site have any useful resources that could benefit their users? If not, can you create a useful resource they would reference?
When unable to obtain a link from a site, examine who they are linking out to. Ask yourself if it makes sense to get a link from those sites. Keep in mind you are trying to build a strong link profile for your company.
Industry Magazines & JournalsUtilize the same tactics as with industry group. The added value of publications is connecting with the journalist. Get creative in your initial contact with them since it can lead to invaluable exposure – in addition to link love.
College Resource PagesFind those resource (link) pages on colleges sites for your industry. Explore in-depth the type of resources they are referencing. Then create something similar. If colleges tend to link out to tools for your industry, create a tool. If they link to white papers, create a white paper. There is no need to reinvent the wheel – just look for the patterns.
As with industry groups, explore who they are referencing as link building opportunities for your site. Remember you are building a trusted link neighborhood for your site.
Government Sites (Libraries, Cities, State, National, Military, NASA)Links from government sites can range from an easy link from a city site to a more difficult link from NASA. Approach each with an open mind. How does the site relate to yours? How would your site benefit their users? What is the value-add in them providing a link to your company? Yes, I know many readers are thinking, "my company is not a high-tech research company so why would NASA link to us?".
Let's look at the travel industry as an example. With a simple search query site:nasa.gov hotels in Google we find hotel related pages on NASA's site. I found this NASA page http://naccenter.arc.nasa.gov/hotels.html linking out to both international chains and independent hotels. This proves it is all about keeping an open mind and finding connections.
Start your link hunting expedition with a mission and goals. Will you go after low-value links or focus on those high-value targets? What is the best use of your valuable time to maximize your results? Approach it as you would any aspect of your business. Focus on what will provide the greatest return for your investment.
Find out more about crafting creative link building campaigns at the first SES: Travel event. The event, to be held in Seattle, Washington, July 26-27, will focus on search marketing trends and tactics for the travel industry.