Don’t you hate it when you read about a cool link building strategy…
…but realize that you can’t use it because you run an affiliate site.
“That’s fine for a Fortune 500″, you say to yourself.
“But that won’t work for me. I guess it’s time to drop a few more blog comments!”
Webmaster’s Note: This post was written by Brian Dean. Affiliate marketer and link builder extraordinaire.
Well I’m here with some great news: You can build the same authority white hat links that the big boys do.
And today I’m going to show you how.
Invest in a Pro Design
If you’re like most affiliate marketers, you don’t spend the time and money you should on site design.
I know because I used to run the most hideous, spammy-looking sites on the planet!
Free WordPress eyesores that looked like this:
Besides the fact that this type of design killed my conversions and saddled me with a 42% bounce rate…
…it made link building a huge pain in the butt!
My Life-Changing Epiphany
In this study, scientists had a group of people visit two websites:
1. One website had a unprofessional design
2. The other looked clean and professional
The researchers then asked them which site they trusted more.
They found a HUGE difference in how the volunteers estimated the the trustworthiness of each site’s content.
But here’s the kicker:
Both sites had the exact same content!
What was the only difference?
In fact, 94% of the volunteers said that they used site design to evaluate whether or not they could trust the site.
Since reading the results of that study, I’ve invested a lot of money in professional web design to make my affiliate sites look and feel like a real brand.
And it’s allowed me to move away from spammy web 2.0 and blog comment garbage…and opened up incredible link building opportunities that simply aren’t possible with a shady-looking site.
Here are some examples of professional-looking affiliate sites that rock insane link profiles:
Remember: affiliate marketing is how you make money from your site. It doesn’t have to define your site or your brand.
White Hat Paid Links?
Whether or not you end up taking my site design advice, you can use this untapped strategy to get dofollow links on high PR pages.
And while it’s technically a paid link strategy, it’s not going to get you into any hot water with Big G.
What’s the strategy?
You’d be astounded at the number of software and non-profits gladly that will trade a small donation for a dofollow link.
Want to know what’s even more amazing?
These sites tend to have jaw-dropping link profiles.
Even better, their donation page tends to be heavily linked to. That means that the page that your link ends up on is often PR4+!
Because I’m in a good mood today, I’m going to show you an example that you can use right now.
First, the site’s link profile from Open Site Explorer (PR6):
The page where you can donate and get your link is: http://www.dragonflybsd.org/donations/
As you can see, this is a PR4 page:
Just head over there, make a donation via PayPal, and send over your URL and anchor text.
A few days later you’ll have your link!
If you dig for donation and supporters pages you can find dozens more.
And because these sites are desperate for cash they don’t really care what your site looks like or what you promote (as long as it’s PG-13).
Amazing Page Link Building
One thing that keeps a lot of affiliate marketers from email outreach is the fact that their site has a lot of ads.
As you may expect, most .edu and .gov sites aren’t going to link to a site with monetization plastered everywhere.
But you can get around this by creating a custom page on your affiliate site that a) provides a ton of value and b) has almost no monetization.
Let me show you an example…
This is a pretty nasty-looking costume ecommerce site that no .edu or .gov site would ever link to…
…or would they?
Amazingly, this site has A LOT of .edu and .gov links:
Well, it turns out this site makes custom resource pages like this that hide the site’s commercial intent:
And they reach out to .edu and .gov resource pages to give them a heads up about the page.
As you can see, it works!
And you can do it too.
1. Make a custom page design (you can hire someone on Elance or Odesk to do this for you) that hides any monetization on your site.
2. Produce an ultimate list or step-by-step guide to something. Make it good.
3. Find University and Government resource pages that already link out to similar pages. You can use these search strings:
“keyword” + inurl:links
“keyword” + “resources”
4. When you find one, send them a friendly email to let them know about your resource page. Most will ignore you. But if you send enough emails you’ll get some killer links that your competition can only dream about.
Be a Content Improvement Superhero
You know what’s weird?
The same site owners that have the best content strategy are also the busiest.
Which means that they usually let their old content get stale, outdated and (gasp!) even broken.
And if you can swoop in and lend them a hand they may just hook you up with a link.
Yes, this includes broken link building…
But you don’t need to stop there.
Here are some other creative ways you can improve people’s content (and get a link in return):
1. Add or improve a diagram: Most webmasters Photoshop challenged, and end up making nasty-looking diagrams like this:
Well if you head to Fiverr or Elance to hire someone make a nice diagram and send it to them, they’ll probably hook you up with a “thank you” link.
Pro tip: Add their logo to the diagram. This will make them love you even more.
2. Add a feature: One of the most creative link building strategies I’ve ever seen was by Eric at My4hrWorkWeek.com. He created a simple Excel spreadsheet that helped people follow along with Pat Flynn’s famous “THE Backlinking Strategy That Works” post. To thank him for creating such a helpful resource Eric got a nice link on a PR4 page that I KNOW sends him a ton of referral traffic:
3. Beyond Broken Link Building: This strategy takes a bit more work than running a broken link checker, but it can net you links that you’d otherwise miss. Let’s say you come across a page with a list of links…but your broken link checker de jour doesn’t find any broken links.
Now you could just move onto the next page on your list…
…but hardcore black belt broken link builders know that there are plenty of “working” links that link to dead sites.
Because the site is still technically up and running, it flies under the broken link checker’s radar. This is common for expired and for-sale domains that show parked pages:
Or some simply have a static page to saying, “Thanks for your support, ___ is no longer active.”
Yes, you have to actually visit each link on the page to see if it’s still active.
But it’s that extra hustle that separates average link builders from extraordinary ones.