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  • Create a Link Building Team Within Your Organization

    Posted by RobOusbey

    At a small or medium sized company, you might be part of a very small team with responsibility for SEO, or you may the only person - and it might not even be your full time job.

    In these cases, people often tell me that the greatest struggle is finding time and resources to do link building for their site. Rather than pitching your boss to hire a new team member to assist with SEO and link building, you may have more success (and get more value out of) asking for a little time with members of different teams from different disciplines.
     
    These staff may be able to give an hour or two each week explicitly to spend on 'link building', or you may be able to introduce them to the concepts, and help them to build link building in to their regular activities.
     
    In this post, I'll focus on the responsibilities and activities your colleagues may have, rather than specific employee positions, since the person with responsibility for different jobs varies greatly depending on the organization.
     
    I'll also give real examples of tactics used in the past, but collected together for a fictional company - RobTech. This company produces "practice management software" for doctors and dental surgeries; it usually sells direct, and gets a lot of leads through their website. Let's take a look at how different internal activities could support link building.
     

    Sales

    There's potential to get links from satisfied customers and even people who haven't bought your products/services.
     

    Example:

    RobTech's sales funnel typical begins with the visitor filling in an enquiry form on the website, then having an online product demo with a member of the sales team. After the demo, people either buy the software, turn it down because they don't like it, or turn it down saying that they like it but can't buy it right now (often because of the cost.)
     
    This third group is often a valuable opportunity for publicity and a link. In response to their rejection, the sales team member replies to say "Thanks, I understand why you can't buy the software at this time. I notice you have a blog on your site; since you liked the software, I was hoping you might be able to do a brief write-up / review for me?"
     
    They also send some screen shots and other resources to make writing the post much easier. Only around 20% actually write a post, but they are from high-quality sites, and always include a link.
     

    Conference Speakers

    If you company ever attends exhibitions to demo the product, or speaks at conferences, there's a chance that people will want to write about what they saw. The sign of a great presentation is when it was so interesting that attendees are desperate to share it with others - but we can make the process of sharing it (through writing or blogging about the company) even easier.
     

    Example:

    RobTech's Product Director speaks at five or six conferences each year. He sees many people finish their presentations with a website URL, and maybe even a link to download the slide deck. Instead, he makes sure that all RobTech's presentations are made available with extras. A page on their site contains the slide deck, high quality versions of the images used, full data sources for charts and tables shown, and links to each of the other RobTech resources and white-papers mentioned in the presentation.
     
    He calls this the 'Journalist & Blogger Pack' - it includes a note to encourage people to use and share the contents, but asks them to credit RobTech with a link to the site. It only takes a little time to upload the appropriate content to a special URL each time, but it has increased the number of bloggers and publishers who include RobTech in their 'conference round-ups'.
     

    Public Relations

    I'm fascinated by the crossover between PR and SEO. You're lucky to be in a very strong position if you have a PR team that is experienced in persuading newspaper/magazine journalists to write about you - but you need to teach them how to use their skills online.
     

    Example:

    RobTech's PR team began by approaching the two biggest online-only medical news websites, and quickly managed to place an article in both sites. They've since looked at other sites outside the niche, and have received coverage (and links) from a technology news site (in an article about 'The Doctor's Surgery of the Future') and a web design site (which reviewed their new site, purely from a design perspective.)
     
    One PR team member has been spending a few hours a week reaching out to bloggers in different niches to introduce them to a new product demo video; some bloggers linked to it in their 'weekly roundups' and one blogger embedded the video and wrote about it.
     

    Copywriting

    Many companies have people responsible for writing various official text, from marketing copy, to online product descriptions, to technical and help documentation. There's every chance that they'd appreciated the opportunity to spread their wings and write something for you to help with SEO, so introduce them to the concept of linkbait, and see if they can come up with anything.
     

    Example:

    The girl who manages the knowledge base for RobTech (basically a very dry list of error messages and how to resolve them) came up with the idea of 'The Top Six Moments of Dr Nick Riviera', which was simply ten embedded YouTube videos, but got to number one on Reddit, and received a lot of links. The guy who writes technical descriptions for the website wrote a short page about "Ten things you don't want to hear your dentist say (while he's peering into your mouth.)" which was well received by bloggers and got a few good links.
     

    Personnel / Human Resources

    There's a big opportunity for larger companies that are regularly recruiting, since many job ad sites allow links to be included in adverts.
     

    Example:

    RobTech have updated the standard template for their job adverts; alongside the request to email your CV and cover letter to the HR Director, they also say 'find out more about the company and what's it's like to work here on our recruitment page.' A fair number of these links are nofollow-ed, but a good number do pass value - and this change came from just a 15 minute conversation with two people who'd never heard of SEO before, so the ROI here was technically awesome.
     

    Procurement

    If you take use the products or services of other online companies, ask them if you they'd be interested in you writing a case-study or testimonial for them.
     

    Example:

    RobTech used a local removal firm to help the relocate the office last year. They wrote a few sentences about how pleased they were with the service, which the company now uses on the front page of their website, including a link to the site. The company also uses a specialist web service to encrypt and store private patient data; that company's site now has a full case study about how RobTech uses the service, which includes a couple of deep links to useful landing pages.
     

    Designers & Creatives

    If your company has creative employees that aren't being fully utilized, there's often an opportunity for them to create link-worthy content.
     

    Example:

    After the new website had launched, RobTech's designer had a few days free. She took some of the rejected designs that weren't used for the site, had a developer turn then into HTML files, and offered them up as free downloads. The page has received a significant number of links from free CSS template sites; they've since added a collection of free vector images which did very well on DesignFloat.
     
    Although the links are not from their target niches, they've usefully contributed to the site's authority.
     

    Corporate Social Responsibility

    If your organization gives donations of money or time to charities, or undertakes other 'CSR' initiatives, don't just be satisfied with the 'cosmic karma' this provides. Find the person who manages this for your company, and show them how to turn it into 'link karma' as well.
     

    Example:

    RobTech gives an annual donation to local dog shelter (the CEO is an archetypal 'dog person') - and the shelter now has a badge in their sidebar, thanking the company for their donation. Even more successful has been the 'technology recycling' drive the company runs one weekend each year. This year they put up a page on the site about the event, which received links from a variety of local sites, including the mayor's website.
     

    Summary

    Many of these example might not be exactly appropriate to your organization, but I hope that you can see at least a few opportunities to bring more employees into your own ad-hoc link-building team. Figure out who you'd like to be involved, and speak to a boss today about getting them to free up just a little time to help do your bidding.
     

     


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