12 Link Building Tactics For 2008

As 2007 turns into 2008 (yes, its more than a month away but you can’t fault me for preparing right now, can you?), it’s worth taking a hard look at our blogging and promotion strategies and how those will evolve in the future.

Today I’d like to cover 12 link building tactics that will be most effective in the coming year – like all such lists, there’s a good chance that I’ve left something out so if you have something to add, please let me know in the comments.

1- Linkbait Mainstream Media

Being picked up by the CNN, Fox News, BBC or the Guardian not only leads to plenty of traffic (the type that would crash your server) but also leads to other bloggers picking you up as a news source. Traffic, new readers, links from the blogosphere and links from highly trusted websites.

It’s not an easy target to achieve, but you can get there by doing the following:

  • Network like the energizer bunny – before you can be recognised as an authority in your niche you need to make yourself known to everyone who matters.
  • Establish a pattern for being the first – Quite often just being the first person to break the news can lead you to scoring dozens of links – and once you build a reputation for being first, you’ll have reporters and other bloggers turning to you to break the news. Position yourself so you can benefit from such opportunities.
  • Linking to top news sources often brings in residual traffic (tech bloggers linking to Techcrunch‘s stories will confirm), and in several cases it also results in other bloggers picking you up as a secondary source on the issue.
  • All of this only works if you have something valuable to offer – whether it’s analysis, exclusive images or your own research. Just regurgitating the news isn’t going to be of as much help.

And if you haven’t already, read this article on how to attract attention from mainstream media.

2- Contests and Giveaways

I expect the tactic of contests and prize giveaways as a means to generate links to be abused beyond reason in the coming year. As things stand, it’s an easy way to build links and once your site builds some traction and a readership, it’s also a good way to reward your readers and attract new ones.

The key with such contests is to:

  • provide value to readers
  • break from tradition and do something more creative than an ‘article writing contest’
  • make a meaningful contribution to your blog
  • engage the community, not just your readers

To expand on that last point – I think it’s very important to give readers – many of whom will have blogs / be active participants elsewhere on the Net – something that they can do offsite, preferably on their own site or whichever forum they frequent the most.

3- Blogger’s / Site Owner’s Personal Brand

Let me illustrate this with a real-world example:

If John Doe and his buddies had started Search Engine Land and pumped it with timely news and top-notch SEO news and analysis, it would have been a sensational new entry into the SEO blogging A-list, after a few months of consistency of course.

On the other hand, with Danny Sullivan’s reputation, SEL was A-list before it launched – not to mention that Danny’s rep also brought in other star bloggers, which in turn fueled the growth of SEL. Newcomers in the industry wouldn’t be able to achieve this level of success so quickly (if at all).

How can you build your personal brand ? Quality, consistency, networking, and timing.

4- Cherry Picking Bloggers

Jim Boykin wrote in May 2006 about cherry-picking links and while I think it’s still an excellent way to build links, the smarter way to do this going forward is to cherry pick bloggers in terms of building relationships.

By investing in relationships, you ensure that the next time you linkbait / launch a new site / do widgetbait, you’ll have a set of influential bloggers reading you and as a result you will get at least some coverage for that event. Once that happens a few times, promoting your site becomes that much easier as your network of friendly bloggers and site owners will be helping you along the way.

Surely that beats a one-time link-based investment?

5- Industrial Strength Linkbait

Linkbaiting, despite the proliferation of absolute crap in its name, is a valuable promotional and link building concept. While linkbaiting – especially industrial strength linkbaiting – will still continue strong in 2008, there will be an increasing trend towards more viral content and less dependence on traditional social media channels.

Expect that ‘industrial strength’ to be focused on creating quality instead of quantity, because as more and more people jump into the linkbaiting boat it’s getting harder and harder to promote your traditional linkbait. Either you’re already a celebrity, or you need to create something kickass.

An example of awesome linkbait.

6- Podcasting

Content is king, but alternative media – especially audio / visual media – is fast catching up in terms of attracting links. Of course, flame bait (the idiotic kind) doesn’t do you any favours, but then again I’m guessing Scoble knew that already?

7- Niche SEO

It stands to reason that someone who has prior experience in an industry will have more contacts and better inside knowledge than a newcomer. If you’re an SEO consultant, this is something you can use to your advantage. If you’re a site owner, learn to leverage your contacts and knowledge of what works (such as what type of content gets links) to differentiate yourself from your competition (and protect yourself against newcomers).

8- Prior Footholds in the Industry

If you’re launching a new website, having an established one in the same (or related) niche is a big bonus. On the other hand, buying an old site can also give the same sort of legitimacy.

Expect to see more and more consolidation happen in 2008 – and if you’re already established in a niche, branch out now rather than latter.

9- Offline Marketing

Offline marketing is a key ingredient for any online business and by 2008 you’ll see this as being one of the main factors differentiating between businesses going to the top, fast and businesses going nowhere, fast.

How are you expanding your promotion offline? Do you attend conferences in your niche? Are you (or your business) referenced in print media? Do you get published in print media?

Despite the importance of the Internet print media is still top gun when it comes to ‘making it’ and that’s one of the areas you should be focusing on next year.

10- Old School SEO

In case you’re wondering, all of it still works – smart site architecture, getting the right links at launch time, topical content, balanced internal linking, relevant link building, cherry picking links – all of that still works, so don’t marginalise it. However, knowing SEO basics isn’t enough to give you an edge in itself – you need to take advantage of all the different link building opportunities available to you.

11- Widgetbait

I’ll let Nick Wilson tell the story here:

The linkbait landscape of 2007 is different than two years ago, requiring some rethink and reassessment of strategies. Linkbait is the smart move everyone needs to be doing. However, the linkbait of 2005 may not cut it with today’s more desensitized audiences. The smart linkbaiters will pursue the holy grail of widgetbait.


The holy grail of linkbaiting in 2007 will be the widget.

In late 2005 and early 2006, I came up with a linkbaiting concept to put my previous company, Performancing, on the social media map. That idea was the Performancing Blog Editor Firefox extension that has achieved nearly half a million downloads on Mozilla alone.

It was a high risk, high reward strategy that not only worked but worked so well that it went beyond mere “linkbait” and is about to become a standalone brand in its own right.

Widgetbaiting is a high-risk link building strategy because you have to spend a lot of time and money in developing it / having it developed, and that’s still no guarantee of whether it will be successful or not. On the other hand, when it IS successful, the results are often spectacular well-worth the effort.

12- Predictive SEO

While this is a strategy that has been used successfully for some time now, predicting search queries and traffic is going to be another one of those tactics you’ll have success using in 2008.

In David P’s recent research on ranking factors in Google, one of the things he didn’t mention was all things being equal, a page on a highly-trusted website would rank higher than a page on a newer, less-trusted website. Call it trust and authority, call it Google’s bias towards old sites, the bottom line is that well-established websites and blogs find it easier to rank high for 3-4 keyword search terms. I’ve personally used this strategy with a lot of success at Soccerlens – and as the old saying goes, the rich keep getting richer so if your site doesn’t have any T&A at the moment you should get busy getting it.

Also See: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Link Builders

Which link building tactic do you think will be most effective in 2008?

13 thoughts on “12 Link Building Tactics For 2008

  1. “contests are an easy way to build buzz and improve branding”

    contests are easy? 😉

  2. Bookmarked too. Great post.

    I especially like the point about contests. If you’re doing networking in your niche, contests are an easy way to build buzz and improve branding.

  3. That left me totally motivated Ahmed. I’m bookmarking this so I implement your suggestions one-by-one. Many thanks.

  4. For me, I use my blog to promote my website, so when I’m trying to promote my blog, I’m really just promoting my site. The best thing I’ve done is to have a writing contest. It gives something people to link to, talk about, get involved in, and a chance to win all in one.

    If your interested, the contest is still going (until 11/29).

    We are looking for professionals and enthusiasts to write advice articles for the average person in three main categories, real estate, weddings, and running a business.

    The winner of the best advice article will receive a new MacBook laptop. And just for entering, they’ll receive a 4-month vendor listing on AdviceNetwork.com, absolutely free. There is no fee to enter the contest, and we don’t require anyone to purchase a vendor listing.

    To enter the contest, go here.

  5. Re: Predictive SEO

    How-To successfully monetize repeating content

    The key is to use the existing search engine love for that URL!

    Let me simply call it long-term brand building for ONE article. My philosophy is to write articles like they are a whole website on a subject. This has proved to be very successful and much less time consuming than always creating a new article. (…)

  6. Ryan – agreed – the way to build your brand is through several of these tactics – mainstream media attention, offline marketing, using personal networks to develop authority, etc.

  7. I loved the post and fount it to be most useful. I have been reading a few blogs today and actually ran across a similar mentioning of self branding. I think that this is an aweseom thing in itself, but with these other eleven you are sure to be successful.

  8. While many of the points on this list indirectly address my point…I must say that the fundamental operating principle for all link building should be in terms of long-term brand building.

    Links will come when you become a household name. The holy grail of link building is getting the point where the site does the building for you.

    That’s why widgetbaiting and/or video productions are my number ones.

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