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Post by Rich Angstadt

In blog, search engine optimization

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Don’t feel like paying? How about a link instead?

We all know that Google doesn’t like paid links and encouraging natural links is the future of SEO. But, for many websites natural links are hard to come by and often have poor anchor text associated with them. So what is a company supposed to do to encourage people to link to their website? Well, you could spend time building value for users or you could simply give away your offering for free in exchange for an inbound link.

Advanced web ranking

Advanced web ranking's free offer.

Sure free is all the rage now but is this an intelligent way to encourage natural links for a website? Well, assuming the company is giving away their own product (and not a third party good), your willingness to create an editorial link implies a genuine endorsement of the offering. And this endorsement is exactly what natural link building is all about. Plus, the links that will be created are all one-way inbound links which gives them more weight then reciprocal links.

You can see how this tactic won’t work for every company – I doubt Ford will start giving away cars in exchange for links anytime soon. However, for many websites, this method of link building can deliver some amazing results. For companies with a low cost of good sold (software, web company, etc.), the incremental cost of giving away a free product is very low while the returns of ranking well organically can be incredible.

If an incentive-based link building program sounds like a good idea for your website, make sure you cover the following items before diving in.

Have a clear criteria
The last thing you want to do is confuse consumers. Be clear in your requirements and provide detailed instructions on how to link to your website.

Manually review all submissions
Be sure to review all of the submissions to ensure they meet the requirements and aren’t spam submissions.

Switch up your anchor text
To ensure your link profile looks natural switch up your anchor text every 30-90 days.

Add other tactics into the mix
An incentive-based link program can create some awesome inbound links but this should only be one part of your overall link building strategy.

Have fun and be creative
Understand the value of the links you’re getting and what your giving away in exchange. After that, have fun with it and be creative in your link building incentives. The more valuable the incentives are to the user, the more links you’ll create.

What about you? Is there anybody out there that has used this tactic to build inbound links? Leave a comment below telling us about it.

About the Author

Rich Angstadt

Rich is the president and founder of Radium, an enterprise digital marketing agency specializing in search and social media. He is a Google AdWords qualified professional and splits his time between Austin Texas & Charlotte NC. Follow Rich on twitter.

One Response to “Don’t feel like paying? How about a link instead?”

  1. Tim Domino

    September 24th, 2009

    Tim Domino said:

    Rich, love the new website. Looks great.

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