Complementary Services for Link-Building

If you provide services that are complementary to those of another website, that’s an obvious reason to collaborate and exchange links. Not competing with each other’s services is an important aspect of being linked to or not. This way, splitting up or combining your activities under a single domain becomes an important SEO dilemma.

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Single or Multiple Websites?

During the time that one of my clients had separate labels for their airline and their hotel site, a lot of competitors linked to them. Websites offering just accommodations linked to the airline and ticket sites linked to the hotels, all relevant to the same destinations. Since they’ve combined those labels into a single name/website they’ve lost links and it seems much harder to attract new links from highly relevant sites in the same industry. Because all those sites perceive them as a competitor, the link-building activities that once worked wonders have ceased to work.

Another client has proven that adding niche websites for their separate activities has the opposite effect. The main site that offers all activities has a lot less links than the new niche sites combined. For the keyword combination “winter sports” he holds multiple top-20 positions with separate sites for snow chains, skiing holidays, snowboard courses, clothing, weather reports, and chalets. The current dilemmas are therefore:

  • Would the combined link value (migration through 301-redirects to a single site) get him a single, very strong number one position? Or is having multiple top-20 positions better than just one number one?
  • Will that traffic convert worse on a broader domain? Or will it convert better thanks to cross-selling and a stronger brand?
  • Will current link partners remove the link immediately when they discover that a niche site now redirects to a site with a competing service?
  • Will these links also be removed when the client just links all niche sites together and keeps separate sites?

Choosing between multiple sites or a single one for the best conversion rates is very case-specific. In my experience I’ve seen effective examples both ways, but I have a small preference for one strong domain, optionally aided with smaller campaign sites.

The effort required for top positions on competitive keywords is easier to yield with a single strong domain that covers a wide range of topics. All the links you acquire for more specific topics accumulate to a broader authority for the entire domain. Acquiring the links on a single strong domain is, however, much harder because it is seen as a competitor to everybody. So can you acquire the links to a niche site and yield the combined link value on a stronger domain?

Linkable Niche Sites

For link-building purposes, your niche site should offer a service that complements a wide range of other sites. The best ones offer or compare lucrative offers for their niche, so pointing that out to your visitors creates goodwill for the linking website. The business shouldn’t be perceived as very lucrative, so no fee is requested in return for the promotion.

Attracting links from your direct competitors is very hard, but through an intermediate niche site you can acquire and redistribute their extremely relevant links. Creating a niche site just for this purpose is a deceitful, but very effective strategy. A comparison site for the niche service doesn’t require you to offer any unprofitable services yourself. This provides additional freedom to create anything that competitors would link to.

  • To negotiate links from travel sites you can create a language course comparison website.
  • Real estate sites increasingly link to companies that improve the energy efficiency of a house.
  • Dating sites link to member discounts for events and romantic restaurants.
  • Web shops will gladly link to a website offering specialty gift-wrappings.
  • A clothing website can link to a gym, tailor, or great accessories to combine with their clothing.
  • All fan clubs, community sites, and events need an official fan shop that they can seldom run themselves. Online gift shops can do that for them.

Anything can be complemented with an additional service. If your niche site complements many relevant websites, it becomes easy to negotiate links. If your regular website is the only one with regular links from your niche sites, it will outrank all your competitors.

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