Link building is dead… long live link building. As much as we hate to admit it, links still matter. Whether it’s an authoritative link to help improve rankings, a link to drive traffic, a link to improve conversions or a link that just simply makes sense – we’re all searching for the best link. What’s the best link you’ve ever built or earned? I surveyed a few noteworthy link builders to get their take on the best links they’ve ever built or earned. There’s always a story behind a link, here are a few. Share your own in the comments below!
Ross Hudgens, Siege Media
The best link I ever built came from Outspoken Media’s blog, where they allowed me to guest post in 2010. While technically not super valuable for any real “link” reasons, it was an incredible launching point for my career (many thanks to Lisa Barone who invited me to write). It gave me legitimacy and a launching point to write other places, a few well-regarded people followed me for the first time, and it created a snowball effect of growth for my personal account, which eventually helped me to comfortably launch my company.
I built that link by commenting occasionally on Outspoken Media, sharing Lisa’s content, and when she asked about getting contributors for her week off through Twitter, I pinged her. In summation, she had awareness of me already through my active participation, I engaged in social listening, and I had put enough decent content out to leverage the opportunity through the newly found trust she had.
Julie Joyce, Link Fish Media
The link I am most proud of is one that’s on a site that represents the total opposite of my usual political and social beliefs, but it’s from a childhood friend who linked to me in a completely natural way. He was dissing liberals, like he does (very well I might add), and linked to me as an example of a liberal that he did actually like. http://www.rightwingnews.com/john-hawkins/5-reasons-liberals-are-such-unpleasant-people-to-be-around/
What he said about me is why this is my favorite link: “In fact, one of the single nicest people I know is a liberal (Hi, Julie Joyce!)”
I have given him some SEO advice before, for free, and he’s gotten me a Fred Thompson autograph (as I am a rabid Law and Order fan) but it’s an example of how you can get a link by being a decent human being. It was unexpected, it was sweet, and I am very proud of it because I didn’t do anything to get it other than be nice to an old friend.
Mat Siltala, Avalaunch Media
I have a story for you. It is not the “best” link I have ever “built” by any means, but it is a story of simple wins, and how easy it is to build quality links that drive traffic after doing a little outreach. This is also a link that has brought in many leads from “people seeing my link on so and so page.” Too often we are wanting the Mashable or Huffington Post link so badly we forget about these other golden opportunities. It is not always about millions of page views (although yes they are nice).
A little less than a year ago our company put out the interactive graphic titled “The Complete History of Social Media” and it started to get a lot of traction. I created it mostly to share as an example of the kind of graphics, and content my company could put out. The more it started getting shared the more interested I became at who else would share this graphic.
I did a simple search on Google for “History of Social Media” and found an .edu site as the number one result (still is today as of writing this). I figured what the heck did I have to lose, and decided to email them up. I saw that they had a good list of other references and asked them if I might be able to get our graphic added as a resource. Got a quick reply that we were added, and I have been watching traffic from that link every day. I have also found other .edu sites linking to us and popping up as a result from this one link. It took one minute to find the site and one minute to email the guy up. Quick wins and a quality link, not just because it is from an .edu site, but because we get traffic from it every day.
Annalisa Hilliard, Pole Position Marketing
It’s hard to pinpoint one specific link as the best link I’ve ever built. I’ll explain. The best link is the link that keeps on giving. A one-and-done link doesn’t fit that expression. Knowing my clients are knowledgeable about their industry, I find influencers who can profit from that knowledge. A few years back I discovered a few bloggers in the ski industry, who hadn’t been blogging for very long and didn’t have a social media presence. They were writing great content, but they weren’t getting much traction in the industry. I helped my client establish a relationship with them by sharing their content and linking to them via the client’s blog. Over a three-month period, we set tangible engagement goals and after reaching those goals, I had my client send each of the bloggers a personalized e-mail. Leveraging my client’s expertise, I helped them create content that was relevant to the bloggers and their audience, and we shared it with them. Some were hesitant and didn’t link to my client, but a few of the bloggers did. That began a couple of relationships that are being reinforced even today.
Finding influencers in a given industry—who aren’t yet established superstars—has been the best long-term link payoff that I’ve found. Not only can you create a mutually beneficial partnership that extends opportunities for getting links in the future, but you can also realize cross-promotional opportunities via social media. It’s a win-win for all involved.
Andrew Meyer, SEER Interactive
The best link I ever got actually never got a link, but it got something much bigger – 10 minutes of exposure on Fox Business on TV. It started with an infographic that was seen by a writer for the Metro. He posted a story about it a few weeks later, we thought that was a win! The real win came when a reporter for Fox Business, was reading the Metro and saw the piece called me up and we had our client head up to the Fox studio. The rest is history.
Ethan Lyon, SEER Interactive
One of the best concepts we ever built that also resulted in a client getting on TV was something that required some creativity and running around (literally) to create valuable asset for this client. This client is in the video surveillance space, coming fresh off a penalty, we knew we had to do some #RCS. We plotted out all the public security cameras in our zip code that we could find. Ethan, along with one of our interns at the time Lauren, and a few SEER team mates, plotted out the cameras on a Google Map as a proof of concept.
As a result, the local ABC news team found out about what we were doing and hosted a story on the news about the client and this asset which could help people be safer, 3 times. The client was patched into the studio via Skype and got 3 minutes in 3 different segments. With that in hand we expanded the campaign to cities across the country, the client continues to be interviewed by news media. It sure was cool to see a “link” idea get on the 6 o’clock news in one of the country largest metros.
Back in 2008 I was a beginner blogger and one of the top experts in the industry pitched me with a guest post. I couldn’t believe it!
Obviously, I was happy to say yes! The article was time-sensitive, so I published it right away. Here it is.
Now back to the question 🙂
That same time-sensitive, quite opinionated article from my expert guest contributor got a mention from NYTimes! Can you imagine how happy and excited I was as a beginner blogger!?
Lessons learned: (1) You don’t need to be huge to be a great guest post host 🙂 (2) Guest blogging rocks because it allows unexpected perspectives on your blog (I had never covered news, but my guest blogger did and that’s how I got my very first very awesome link!). Both points are confirmed by this MyBlogGuest success story as well: Our very new publisher (“new” means that the blog is not too popular yet) got NYTimes blog mention to one of the published guest posts.
I built my best link ever on March 18, 2010. The link came from a post I wrote for the blog of one of the largest web hosts in the world. As you may have guessed, the post was for HostGator. Their blog is a PR6, and at the time the domain was a PR8 (it’s currently PR7). The title of the post was 10 Way to Tell if Your Web Host Sucks. What’s cool is not only was the post on a great blog, but it also ended up on Digg’s homepage (this was when Digg was still a big deal).
The way the post came about was I started reading and commenting on the HostGator blog, as well as the blog of their sister company, SEOHosting.com. Additionally, since I live in Houston, which is where their main headquarters is located, I knew a few people who worked for the company. So even though my reading, commenting and network of friends wasn’t done with the intention of landing a guest post, it ended up being the natural path that those activities followed. Here is the link to the original post: http://blog.hostgator.com/2010/03/18/10-ways-your-web-host-sucks.
Kaila Strong, Vertical Measures
As many experts have shared, the best link is really the one that generates traffic and leads even after it’s built or earned. Having built and earned thousands of links over the past five years at Vertical Measures, I’d have to say one of my favorite was built by an intern of ours. Although she’s no longer at the company, and realized link building wasn’t for her, it was a link that generated thousands of visitors and a few conversions for an outdoor lighting client of ours back in 2011.
The link builder discovered a great gardening forum. It had awesome metrics (high PageRank, great Moz rank and DA) and she thought it would make sense to contribute to a thread about outdoor lighting. The thread discussed some troubleshooting issues with outdoor lighting in your garden and our client had the information on their site to help answer the questions. Simple, straightforward and to the point. Essentially this link builder was asking herself, “if there were no Google, would I want this link?” Of course! It can drive traffic and a conversion, which is exactly what it did not even a day after it was placed. The client was impressed, we were impressed and it still generates traffic to this day. I’ve personally built links with better metrics, but overall this is one of my favorite. It’s exciting to see someone succeed at link building, she was so proud of that link!