Ben’s Link-Architecting Ideas Cheat Sheet

Here’s where I’ll collect ideas for generating serious inbound links to a website.

For years I have taught that SEO, at its very best, is actually PR! The principle is that we shouldn’t be thinking about building links one by one, but designing a plan that will cause links to be created by other people.

Be an Architect, not a Bricklayer!

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The holy grail, then, would be to have a story or a cause that’s just so damn compelling that people want to tell everyone else about it. That’s why I put so much effort into trying to define each client’s unique thing, whether that’s their story or their vision for the world.

The List

  1. Give it Away!
  2. Job Ads
  3. Petitions or Campaigns
  4. And the Winner Is…
  5. Association

#1. Give it Away!

I have to start with this. It’s the most challenging, and probably not what you want to hear, but it’s the best SEO strategy I know.

It is simply to share your knowledge! If you have a realisation, an insight, a trick of the trade… write about it!

I started doing that in 2004, and now this website has 12,000 inbound links from 1,318 domains (according to Moz). What’s best, because all those links are coming naturally and organically, their profile will of course look natural and organic to Google. (If a website suddenly gets a lot of links in a short period and then none, that will look unnatural.)

If you look at my top-linked pages below, they’re all informative. Many of them were written over ten years ago.

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Don’t worry about people using your information. They will. Those people were unlikely to buy that information from you, and it’s okay. Never let that stop you.

Most of my clients over the past few years have read my blogs, and bought my books, and still came to me for help! Putting your knowledge out there in the world is going to help your business, not harm it.

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Tip: Never forget that the more you learn, the further you advance down your path, the more people there are starting the journey behind you. There is always someone who is asking today the questions you answered yesterday. So there’s nothing to lose by sharing the answers you’ve discovered, without restraint.


#2. Job Ads

Post an amazing ad for a job or internship and tell people about it. If you can specifically target students or recent graduates, this could be a great way to get inbound links from University websites (which tend to be very high-authority and high-trust).

Tip: Even if you fill the post, never take down the page! You need to maintain the inbound link juice. Just hide it from your navigation. If linking sites get a report that their link is broken, they may remove the link.

Example: “The Best Job in the World”

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A few years ago, Tourism Queensland posted “the best job in the world” — to live on a desert island on the Great Barrier Reef, spending your days snorkelling and scuba diving. The opportunity attracted so much attention that it has earned a LOT of links!

Think Different!

I’d like to invite you to think differently about how you invest in link architecture. Playing safe is not safe! Risky is the new safe!

What value would you put on getting a website links from 1000 different domains? To put it into some context, Open Site Explorer reports that WebDesignFromScratch has dofollow links from 1,035 other websites (1,220 domains total).WDFS-link-metrics

This “Best job in the world” paid Australian $150,000 (about $113k U.S. dollars). I would say that the value of those inbound links far exceeds that cost!


#3. Petitions or Campaigns

People love to have an opinion and get excited about causes (on one side or the other).

In addition to the big platforms like change.org, there are several tools that will let you add a petition to your own website.

Petitions and campaigns do not look like link-architecting. They bypass our natural suspicions, help polarize views, call to our emotions.

Example: Floridians for Solar Choice

This domain was registered in December 2014, and in 15 months the “Sign the Petition” page alone has attracted links from at least 30 other websites. Domain-wide, Open Site Explorer has found nearly 3000 external inbound links from 162 different domains.

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On what cause can you make a stand? What will attract your natural tribe and get them passionate?


4. And the Winner Is…

One easy way to get people talking is to create your own competition or list.

This is also a classic niche marketing tactic. If you want to be perceived as an authority in your niche, what better way than to create your own series of awards?

Check out my top organic landing pages last week. My most popular landing page is “Top 10 Best Designed Websites in the World,” accounting for one fifth of all my organic visits last week!

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Just check out the SEO metrics for that page! 34 links from 13 different websites, and a LOT of social shares.

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Why is this such an appealing link-architecting tactic?

  • You don’t have to create all your own content. It starts with choosing other content you admire (or despise).
  • Everyone loves to have an opinion, and by putting yours down in black & white, you create something for them to have an opinion about. All shares and links are good, even if they’re from people violently disagreeing with your point of view!
  • If you choose high-profile websites for your shortlist, they may choose to link back to the page. This is more likely if you have some kind of voting option (people will want to send their supporters there), and also if you give your winners graphics to say they won (which should go on their websites and link back to your award page).
  • Inviting people to submit their own suggestions can be a great way to get easy inbound links.

5. Association

One of the key principles we’ve touched on already is having the balls to OWN your own space in the market. You cannot wait for someone else to give you the award for being “THE person” in your niche… You have to take it!

First, BE THE PERSON. Then, do what THE person does, and before long people will see you as THE person. That’s the only way it works.

Taking that idea a little further, if you want to position yourself firmly in any market space, why not go all-in and set up your own association?!

One recent example is The Ethical Marketing Group. It has a free “Supporter” membership, where supporters are encouraged to put a badge on their own website. With very little work, the EMG website already has inbound links from three supporters’ websites.

It’s easy to find established association websites in most niches. The Association for NLP (anlp.org), for example, has dofollow links from 305 other domains.

There are plenty more good reasons to create your own association, if it is something you can do well. (If you don’t enjoy administration, it probably isn’t for you.)

Particularly if you choose the target market that you already serve as a provider, you could find that your prospects actually come to you, instead of you having to go out to find them!