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Creative Link Building for Affiliates in Difficult Industries
Image Credit  Trevor Leyenhorst Creative Commons license

Creative Link Building for Affiliates in Difficult Industries

On Saturday I did a marathon over 11 hills in the Pentlands in aid of a fantastic cause. Like any professional procrastinator, I left the fundraising to the last minute and was struggling for fundraising ideas. 

Then a bolt of inspiration hit me- why not just donate your own money to the charity from one of the affiliate sites? The site I was planning on using was the magic wand site under the guise of the product being originally intended as a “sports massager”, something that I would definitely need after 26 miles. 

The Links

The charity, of course, was not up for helping cross promote due to the nature of the product, however the walking community were more than happy to help me raise awareness and tell their readers about it, providing links to my landing page. 

The Outcome

I now have 5 bloggers writing posts with links due to go live next week and we have already raised £250 for the charity and more donations coming in all the time. Happy days!

Trade Shows

People think that getting a stand at a trade show is expensive but if you are smart about it and target local trade shows with a solid web presence you can get a pitch for relatively little money plus a link on the organisers site. 

When you get to the trade show, go around every single stall, pick up a business card and take lots of photos and video of each stall. Then after the event, email everyone you met and send them the pictures and video of their stall asking for a small attribution link if they use the photos. To make the linking process even more natural, put up a gallery of all the pictures and video on your site and get them to link to the gallery. 


There is usually some form of PR around the events so why not set up an alert for the event name and work out an angle for contacting the people that post about the event. You already have context with the person as you were at the event and will therefore be much more likely to get a link via a guest post, product review, interview, etc. Plus if you have a massive gallery of pictures and video, they may want to use some of your media to bring their posts alive and provide more information for their readers. 

More Alerts

Journalists are always looking for an industry spokesperson to quote in their stories as it gives the article an heir of legitimacy. Subscribe to a Topsy RSS feed for #prrequest and #journorequest and get daily updates from Twitter from all the people looking for information in exchange for links and citations. 

Give Your Media Away

If you have nice images and video on your site then make sure that other sites know that they can use your images and video if they provide an attribution link. Just make sure your images are properly optimised to be found in image and video search.

Stealing Really Gets on my Tynts

Sometimes people just want to copy and paste your content and not give you the credit for the image or video. Therefore, add Tynt, a small piece of code, to your site to automatically create a link when you content is copied and pasted. 

Super Charge it With Zemanta

Don’t wait for people to randomly Google for your images, set up an account with Zemanta and get your content pushed to bloggers directly.  Zemanta takes your content feed and offers it to related bloggers in your vertical so they can use your content and you get an attribution link. 

Twitter Competitions

Now, I am not suggesting social shares make a blind bit of difference to rankings (yet). What I am suggesting is that you scrape the user data of people that take part in twitter competitions in your vertical and use that as the basis for outreach. 

How to Scrape Twitter Bios

  1. Download SEO Tools for Excel
  2. Go to the Scraping-> XPathOnUrl
  3. Drop this code in //p[@class='location-and-url']//span[@class='profile-field']
  4. Rinse and repeat

For example, I setup an alert for “competitor name + competition” and “keyword + competition” via Topsy so I am notified of any social activity around things related to my site. After the competition is over, I find the entrants on twitter with websites, and email them to ask if they won the competition. If they didn’t win, I offer a chance to win or review one of my products.  

As the context is already there and they have expressed a desire to be in a competition, some special treatment and a direct email usually goes down very well. 

Slow Lumbering Behemoths

Competing against big brands can be difficult from a scale perspective but you can definitely beat them on speed and agility. Simple things like reacting to big news or cultural events can drive you a ton of traffic and generate lots of social shares. 

Make sure you track where your content has been shared so you can follow up with outreach and link reclamation. 


In hindsight, I should have created a funny vine video spoof of the Miley Cyrus song Wrecking Ball and rode the wave of search traffic around that topic. 

Picture a magic wand instead of a wrecking ball and the audio getting higher pitched as the wand vibrates more intensely. 

Embed the video on the blog, setup an alert for “wrecking ball spoofs” and outreach to everyone that is writing about it. Or curate a post around the spoofs and outreach it to some high end social media and pop culture sites. Hello links!

Plus any social shares get mined to find website owners for follow up outreach. 
Alas, another thought for the idea graveyard!

Audience Proliferation

Realistically how many people can a campaign idea touch?

Assess different audiences that would write about your site/product/content and look for cross over areas where you can drive economies of scale in your outreach. 

For example, in my daft wrecking ball content idea I could target: 

  • Pop Culture Sites
  • Music Sites
  • Social Media Sites
  • Miley Cyrus Fan Sites
  • Lifestyle Blogs
  • Content curation sites such as Buzzfeed

That’s 6 audience areas from a throwaway 6 second video. So even if the first 3 audiences hate it, I still have another 3 areas to hit up in my outreach. 

If you can’t be bothered scraping related blogs from Google or if you don’t have a tool like Linkdex that does it for you, I find going to Technorati or Alltop and pulling the top 100 blogs in a vertical is a good place to start. 

Oh, and on the subject of Technorati, have you submitted your blog to the site to get a DA 100 do follow link? No? Well what are you waiting for, it’s open submission. 

Throw Money at It

When all else fails or you can’t be bothered with doing any outreach or community development then just throw some money at it. 

Typical examples include: 

  • Sponsor a university society
  • Sponsor a local kids football team
  • Buy ad space to start a relationship and offer editorial down the line- bloggers are much more likely to write about your product if you are also paying for an ad. 

Disclaimer: Obviously, you will want to be careful with this example as it may be seen as a paid link in the eyes of the Big G. If you are particularly nervous about sponsorships and paid inclusion, why not use your sponsor ship as an ice breaker and then approach later down the line with some non- paid editorial content. 

Do Some Research

In my day to day job with DigitasLBi, I have the luxury of every market research tool under the sun to pull data from. Therefore, I like to put together “data driven thought leadership pieces” to be sent to relevant journalists.

Why not use some of the free data sources out there to build up and interesting or even sensationalist press release around your industry. Using something as simple as adwords keyword volumes to create a post about consumer preferences in different countries could create an interesting press release that would get picked up by trade publications and magazines.

Get Your PR in Line and go Local

At the agency we have access to the Gorkana database which makes finding journalists ridiculously easy. But if you don’t have access to such a tool, I recommend you go to followerwonk and search for queries like “writer for” or “for the guardian” or “journalist”. You can also define conditions like location to get journalists in a particular location. 

The wonderful Andy Barr of 10 Yetis, presented at Think Vis the other year and revealed research showing that local journalists are expected to write more than 10 articles a day and are some of the most stretched for resource in the entire industry. Therefore, it is much easier to get them to pick up your content than a national. From an SEO point of view this is just as good as the domain authority of these sites is still very high and still has high enough exposure to make the time investment worth your while. 

Ross Tavendale

Ross Tavendale

Ross Tavendale is a IM enthusiast who spends most waking hours on the internet. He has been in SEO for 6 years and makes dodgy videos about it from time to time. He only likes online people, go make friends with him on 

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