Link Building Outside Your Niche

I know what you’re going to say: in the face of Penguin, link building outside of your own niche isn’t exactly safe anymore. That may or may not be true. It all depends on how you go about it, and exactly where outside of your niche you’re going.

You might want to start by defining what your niche is. Say you’re a plant nursery or gardening store. You focus on the home gardener. These are people who enjoy gardening and making things grow as their hobby. If they have a good season, maybe they like to give away the proceeds of their garden as gifts to friends. Some of them might even be ambitious enough to make a little money on the side from the fruits (and vegetables and other plants) of their labors.

So you can link to other nurseries. But where else can you look for links? Nick Stamoulis at Search Engine Guide offers up a number of useful suggestions. First, consider what other products your customers shop for. You specialize in plants; what else do people who garden need? Gardening tools? Bricks to build borders? Outdoor water fountains and statuary?

You probably don’t carry some of the things that your customers want need for their gardens, but that doesn’t mean that you’re losing business if someone buys that item from someone else. A customer who buys a wheel barrow from someone else isn’t going to NOT buy plants from you. “A great link building opportunity is to partner with relevant companies and pool your combined resources to help both companies succeed,” Stamoulis points out. So you can talk with a company in a related business about both of you being listed on each other’s websites as preferred partners. Or maybe you can take out ads in each other’s newsletters, or contribute to each other’s blogs. Get creative and think beyond a simple link.

Another place you can look to for building links is within your own community – and in this case, I’m not talking about the online community. Maybe you can help the local school raise money with a plant sale, donating plants for the sale and sharing your expertise with free gardening advice. You could give away a coupon for 15 percent off the buyer’s next purchase at your nursery. And that’s just the beginning of your networking and customer-building opportunities. But wait, this was about links, right? “Not only are local events a great way to introduce  your brand to local customers (which is especially important if you have a physical store location you’re trying to drive traffic to), you can also get listed as a sponsor on the organization’s site, as well as a mention in any press coverage of the event in local, online newspapers,” Stamoulis explained. In other words, this kind of activity brings with it fresh, relevant, useful links, if you take advantage of it appropriately.

I’ve saved one of the potentially coolest ideas for link building for last. You might need to build up a little courage to do this right – or if you’ve been in the industry for a long time and know a lot of people, it might not even occur to you, since all of these people are just your friends. What I’m talking about is doing interviews with leading people in the industry, and then posting them on your website.

You don’t need to go for the celebrities who are so popular they need a social secretary to manage their time; in this case, it’s the expertise your readers will want to bask in. Of course, if you can get someone who is well-known, by all means go for it! Just make sure, as you’re thinking about who you might interview, that they fit into a niche that connects with yours.

So what kind of industry voice would work here? A local landscape designer might work. Or you could dream big and try for someone like Mel Bartholomew, the originator of square foot gardening. Is there a botanical garden in your area? Perhaps you can get an interview with someone there.

Doing this kind of interview not only builds content for your site and teaches you more about your own field, but “Chances are the expert is going to help you promote that piece of content because it helps with their own personal branding and link-building,” Stamoulis noted. “But every time they share your interview it’s your site that gets a link and the social signals!” And the better-known the expert you get to interview, the stronger their social network is likely to be. Imagine the reach of the links you’d get from this!

Let me leave you with one more thought from Stamoulis which is the entire key to building links outside your niche: make sure the people and organizations to which you’re reaching out are relevant. In other words, “there needs to be a clear and reasonable relationship between your site and theirs. Look for sites that target the same audience as you and help solve similar problems,” Stamoulis explained. Both your business and your link partner’s business will grow when you work together to fulfill your customers’ needs. Good luck!

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