Affiliate marketing for the most part is easy. Building websites? WordPress makes it an absolute breeze. Content writing? Easy to do yourself, or outsource. Search engine optimization? There’s a zillion basic SEO guides out there, and unless you’re a complete moron you should be able to handle on-page and on-site SEO no problem.
But the one real tricky part about affiliate marketing is building backlinks. And one of the most common questions I get is “Where do I get links to my site?” or “How do I get links to my site?”.
There really are hundreds of different methods you can do to get backlinks. Some are very effective, others not so effective, and others can hurt you. It’s one of those things where you really can’t read what other people tell you in regard to backlinks – you just have to learn for yourself.
Rather than write some “how to get backlinks” article that would probably be redundant in a few years due to the evolution of search engines, I thought I would list 10 random methods I used to get backlinks in the past couple of years, from 2010-2013. I’ll try to stay away from your generic “guest blog” type suggestions and go with some that most people don’t think of.
Like anyone with a brain, I’m generally quite protective of how I gain backlinks beyond giving general advice. However where possible, I’ll give specific examples.
#1: The Konami Code:
A few years ago, one big thing was websites using the Konami Code as an easter egg. You’d type it on ESPN.com and it’d bring up a ton of unicorns all over the website. If you did it on Facebook they’d start adding lens flare all over the site.
This was HUGE for awhile, and every website was linking to websites that did something crazy with the Konami Code. So of course I did the same thing. On CasinoAnswers.com if you typed in the Konami code, it changed it to KonamiAnswers.com with a whole bunch of little in-jokes about Konami.
Unfortunately that was on the old design, isn’t implemented on the new design, and I don’t have the old design stylesheet but you can see the text here.
I got a ton of random solid links to the site based on that. The key to that was not half-assing it; I went out of my way to do something that was WORTH sharing and checking out, and sites responded in kind.
#2: Unique 404 Pages:
Following along from the Konami Code suggestion – it seems at least once per month, I’m reading a website linking to unique and funny 404 pages. For example – DC Comics has a pretty cool Joker 404 page. Or hell go completely nuts with this Lemmings 404 page.
Right there, that’s a great way to get links and awareness for your site. Create a cool 404 page – something different that people will share. Then go that one bit further – think “how can I make it benefit my site” so that when people click through to check it out for themselves(and believe me, they will) you have some sort of hook.
One thing I did with Casino Answers(again, lost it during the design change oops) was I had a 404 page that offered players a no deposit bonus as an apology. The page itself wasn’t worth sharing but hey errors happen and sometimes people would stumble on that page. I ended up picking up quite a few signups due to that.
At the very least, have a 404 page that also encourages users to keep checking out your site. Alexandre at Casino Lemonade has a nice vague button that you can’t help but click. Make it a top secret – like the user has stumbled upon a page they weren’t meant to, and in return you’ll give them a discount off your product, a bonus, a free e-book or something.
In regard to both of the above, start looking for things that other websites are linking or that you can get in front of. Cracked.com is a good example – they recently did an article about 21 easter eggs on the internet. Now while they didn’t hand out backlinks, I’ve seen numerous copycat articles since then which have so that’s something you can easily get in front of.
#3: Helping Make The Internet A Better Place:
I’ll see an article on Wikipedia about a topic that one of my websites revolve around. The wikipedia article is weak in content. I’ll contribute to the article, make it a better resource for the reader, and cite a URL on my website as a source.
Or Yahoo Answers or forum posts. I’ll maybe see someone asking what the Order of an authors books are. I’ll provide the list, while citing my website OrderOfBooks.com. I’m being a nice guy and helping out these people, while also getting the benefit of a link.
And yeah yeah – Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers are no-follow, while forum post links are about as valuable as a Somalian shilling when it comes to ranking. But remember #1 there’s always a ripple effect, and #2 getting links isn’t purely about ranking higher in the search engines.
#4: Provide Tips on Helpful Software:
There’s lots of great software out there which can help out your online website or business. If you use it on a regular basis you’ll most likely pick up some tips or strategy to get more out of the software. So why not share those tips with others while getting a backlink out of it?
Now yeah this falls under the standard “guest posts” – but it seems most guest posts are on random blogs or websites which link out a ton anyway. How about going straight to the source?
#5: Asked my Affiliate Manager:
You’d be surprised how many links I’ve managed to get simply by asking my affiliate manager. Sure, you’re most likely not going to get a link from Walmart or Amazon – but if you go down the ladder you’d be surprised how many affiliate managers are willing to give you backlinks.
Often, I’ll work in a backlink during early negotiations with a room. If an affiliate manager wants you to promote them that bad, they’ll make it happen. Or I’ll wait until down the road when I am making a bunch of money with that room, then approach them with the request. Again it breaks down to a negotiation – you like the money I’m bringing you, so hook me up with a link.
If presented well enough, the affiliate program can see that this will be a good deal for them. As long as you continue to promote them in your top spots, they’ll give you the backlink. Most likely on a decent ranked on-topic website with very few other outgoing links. Which is being linked to by a whole bunch of other websites similar to yours. That’s a nice link to have, and if it helps increase your rankings then that can only HELP the affiliate program make more money from you.
#6: Ran A Contest / Gave Away Free Shit:
There’s absolutely tons of freebie websites out there or websites that share sweepstakes or contests. This one is a no-brainer, yet so many people don’t do it. It’s a great method to get links AND e-mail addresses. Get yourself over to Rafflecopter and start giving away free stuff.
#7: Provided Content for Celebrities to Share:
Practically anyone who falls under the category of “celebrity” is on Twitter these days. So do up some content that’ll maybe get them to tweet it or retweet it and share among their followers. Then there can be a nice fallout from that with others tweeting about it, visiting your site, and it even being spread to other websites.
For example – professional poker player Phil Gordon. Here’s his Twitter. He is the CEO of Jawfish games who are behind the iPhone App Jawfish Poker. I did not know ANY of that until 5 seconds ago when I clicked on his Twitter account. However I see him retweeting things about Jawfish Poker to his 13,000 followers who – guess what – are most likely poker fans.
So I’d do something related to Jawfish Poker on my poker site, in the hopes of a retweet. I’d try and think outside the box too. A Jawfish Poker Review? Blah. How about a Top 5 Poker iPhone Apps article which has Jawfish as #1? Or a video blog or live stream of you playing at Jawfish? Something actually WORTH retweeting.
One thing I did under this category was get a humorous comic strip done featuring a minor celebrity who had about 300,000 followers on Twitter. The comic strip itself cost me about $20(thanks Fiverr!). I didn’t just tweet it to him – I embedded it at the very top of my homepage and then tweeted the HOMEPAGE URL to him. He retweeted it, and others were retweeting it and clicking on it. Then I was seeing links from Facebook, from reddit and other sites where it was naturally submitted. All gaining nice links to my homepage.
#8: Asked my Followers:
Whenever someone follows one of my sites via Twitter, Facebook etc I make sure to check them out. If they’re following you because they’re clearly interested, then they’re a great person to ask for a backlink. Get chatting to them, and just casually ask if they have a blog they could throw a link for you on, or mention you in their next article. Or ask them to tweet about you or maybe mention you on Facebook.
It’s a really easy method that most people don’t seem to utilize, yet it gets you an excellent backlink because more often than not, the person following you has friends who will share the same interest as them and it’s opening you up to a bigger audience.
#9: Interviewed “Minor Celebrities”:
I’m not sure if “minor celebrities” is the best definition – but I run book websites like http://www.BookSeriesinOrder.com and other similar sites.
These days, there is a LOT of authors who self-publish via their Kindle and do all of their marketing themselves on social marketing sites. These guys are desperate to get their name out there and aggressively market. Due to that, they usually build up quite an audience on Twitter, Facebook and via their mailing list.
So I let them do the marketing for me. I’ll interview them, gain some great unique content for my site, then they’ll market the hell out of it for me and there’ll usually be a ripple effect gaining me quite a few backlinks all around the web.
#10: Donated to Worthy Causes:
This one has been common for years – but it bears mentioning because it’s a way to get backlinks while actually doing something good and supporting a worthy cause.
Every day I start my morning off by reading the UK newspapers like the Daily Record and the Sun. I’ll read some sad story about a child who has to travel to the USA to get some sort of cancer operation or similar. However they can’t travel because the family can’t afford it. 99% of the time, the family has set up a website accepting donations.
So I’ll donate a good amount of money. They’ll usually send a personal thank you and you can respond and ask if it’s possible to get a link on their site, or you can follow-up with them and ask.
If they say yes then great, you’ve just earned yourself a backlink on a site that has links coming to it from authoritative media websites. And if they say no? Who gives a crap – you just sent money that will potentially save someones life!
I always feel weird whenever I mention that method. It always feels sort of wrong. But then I think long term – I’m a sucker for sad stories involving kids, and would donate to them regardless. If I can get backlinks out of it then that can help my sites grow and earn more money – which in turn will allow me to turn around and donate to even more worthy causes!
I’ll let you know how that all works out for me when I’m burning in hell.