The following is a Guest Post from Everett Sizemore.
The ethics of paid links aside (we all know how Michael Gray feels about that already) the best paid links don’t usually come from a network or broker, and aren’t generally thought of as ‘paid links’ in the first place – though they are. In fact, they don’t even come from someone who knows what a nofollow tag is, or why selling links is against Google’s guidelines. And regardless of the fact that they are paid, Google doesn’t seem to mind them so long as they are on-topic and coming from a reputable website. As the title suggests, this “link buy” comes in the form of sponsoring an event or website. The trick is to find sponsorship opportunities that are in your corner of the web (read: on-topic).
Here are five search queries to help you find such links:
As always with link building, be on the look out for redirects, nofollow tags, etcetera… But you’d be surprised at how few PR7 and PR8 web pages out there list links to sponsors using normal hrefs.
I’m sure by now you get the point. Try switching “sponsor” with “advertise” and see if the site has advertising that doesn’t use redirects, tracking links or nofollow tags. You might be thinking that it is easy for Google to see if the word “sponsor” or “advertise” is in the URL, Title or even somewhere on the page – and you would be correct. However, I have not found this to have a negative effect on the quality of that link so long as it is on-topic and the link involves two reputable sites. I’ve studied competitor’s incoming links enough to know that some of them are competitive in the SERPS for certain keywords largely because of a few well-placed sponsorship logo-links with good Alt text pointing to the right page.
But why stop there? As many of you probably know already, the physical location of a website plays a role in your local rankings just as a topical site plays a role in your rankings for those topics in the traditional SERPS. If, for instance, I had a Denver home construction business, I would want to get links from Denver websites, and from construction websites – preferably both. How might some of these queries look?
First, let’s find some sponsorship opportunities on websites here in Denver, Colorado with some decent page rank and SEO-friendly links by using Google Maps (Denver, Colorado sponsors). You may notice that those results are less than stellar. That’s because Google assumes we’re looking for a ‘sponsor’ businesses in their Google Local database. BUT, if you select “Show Search Options” and then “Show Mapped Web Pages“ and re-apply the search, you’ll see a number of opportunities, including this one: http://www.builtgreen.org/directory/sponsors.aspx . That’s a nice PR-4 page. I wonder how much one would have to donate in order to become a sponsor?
If you have a product to sell, the best way to pay for links without actually “paying” for them is to send out samples. I’ll let you use your imagination here on finding the appropriate sites, but you might want to start by finding out who has reviewed your competitor’s products. And don’t just focus on small blogs. I’ve managed to get reviews in major national magazines and newspapers, as well as some of those annoying websites that you see ‘about‘ every topic in the search results. Even reporters and bloggers for major magazines like free stuff. The trick is to make contact first and not ask for the link. Nine times out of ten they’ll link to you anyway, so don’t push your luck by making it obvious what you’re after.
Socialize with Everett: http://twitter.com/balibones