Exchange links with business partners – Ask for a link from your business customers or contractors. You can also make linking a mandatory part of the contract; there are no rules against it. If you do include it in the contract, make sure to mention that the link must be located on a page accessible to search engines (a password-protected page or intranet does not work).
Publish Technical Papers – The right technical papers can get .edu/.lib links, as well as attract occasional geeks. Post highly scientific and technical information that you have (and don’t mind sharing) and shoot several link requests to college and university domains. Your yield may be only one or two links in a few weeks, but those can beat 100 cheap links in power.
Share All Information That You Have – Whatever you have on your disks, hard drives, diskettes, college/university studies – share it with the world (as long as you don’t mind). It may seem like gibberish to you, but if you get 10 decent links, then it’s worth the effort.
Seminars, Trade Shows, Speaking Engagement etc. – Every time you participate in industry seminars, trade shows and other engagements, don’t forget to ask for a link. You’ll need to nag several people, but it’s worth the effort, since many government websites link to seminar/trade show websites, passing trust rank that eventually flows to you.
Professional Organizations – If you’re a member of a professional organization (chamber of commerce, etc) ask for a link from their website. If you’re not a member of any organization, then budget some money and join several good ones. Talk to the staff if they require articles, speakers or other help in exchange for a link.
Create Detailed Walk Throughs – A walk through is a step-by-step guide on connecting hardware, setting up software, taking apart a vehicle, etc. Walk throughs help people get from A to Z in easy-to-understand language, supported by pictures and a clear format. For example, you could do an article on how to remove Microsoft Vista and replace it with Windows XP.
Conspire with Friends – Tell all your friends to start blogging and then get all of them to link to your websites… for a beer (or whatever it is you drink out there). Once your article gets on social media sites like Reddit, Digg and others, convince your friends to vote for it.
Create List Posts – Lists posts, such as “100 best ways,” “77 killer tools that…” “35 things to…” etc, are pretty hard to do, but you can usually get a great response, especially if you have some relationship within the community.
Timestamp Your Blog Posts – "Timestamp" basically means schedule. You can write a blog post on Friday, but schedule it on Monday. I use timestamps all the time, since I write all of my articles once a week and spread them out over three days (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).
[Editor's note: check the limitations on your blogging software; you may only be able to schedule out so far. You can still plan ahead with tools such as an editorial calendar, however. The idea behind this suggestion is to put yourself on a regular schedule, so visitors will know that you post reliably...and thus be more likely to read you regularly and link to you].
Do Product and Websites Reviews – Blogs and websites are the babies of the masterminds who run them. Taking a positive spin about a blog/site will make the owner very happy and thankful. Getting a link will be a breeze. Just don’t forget to tell the site owner, otherwise he won’t know!
Add a Page That Invites Links – If you’re a good copywriter, create a little spin off detailing all the “benefits” webmasters get by linking to you. I haven’t tried it, but it’s an experiment to consider. Maybe people will link. After all, infomercials work… pretty well…
Trade Blogrolls – Reciprocals have gone down in value, but there’s nothing wrong with swapping quality for quality.
Attack Leaders in the Industry – But be careful! Stains can be hard to wash off (Microsoft = evil monopoly). You can get plenty of links by attacking the top people in your field, trashing their practices and telling them to do things differently. The down side – leaders have herds of followers who will gladly defend their honor and return fire ten fold. Chances are, you’ll burn the brand in the industry and be seen as an evil, insecure outcast (for example Traffic Power and Aaron Wall).
Run Contests and Give Away Prizes – Incoming links will depend on the size of your prize, trust in your website and scale of the contest. Once you set up the contest, make sure to send out multiple press releases and notify influential webmasters/bloggers in the industry.
Be warned, however: this strategy did not work for Microsoft, as it failed seven times with its “search incentives” program designed to lure in users from Google and Yahoo. They did get links though, so we can call it a success from the link building perspective.
Mentor Less Experienced People – I’ve heard a good quote somewhere: “Leadership is not about controlling people, it’s about taking people with high potential and guiding them.” Become a mentor to a group of less experienced people and ask them to link to you as a courtesy.
Use Confusion as Link Bait – Go through forums/blog comments and spot a confusion in the discussion. Research the topic and offer a detailed answer to the dilemma/educated opinion on your website as a link (you don’t need to know the answer when you spot confusion, since you’ll have to research it anyway). If the article is helpful, some of the people will link to it. This tactic requires some work and does not guarantee any links.
Join the Better Business Bureau – All members get a private page spiderable by the search engines. On top of trust seals, you get a trust link.
Donate to Charities – There are plenty of charities online who will gladly take your money to fight for their cause. The sites are usually run by nice individuals who care for others, and you can easily negotiate a link. This is essentially, at some level, a link buy.
Hire a Professional Link Building Company – There are plenty of companies online, but good ones don’t come cheap.
Give Away Free Stuff with Embedded Links – templates, software, pictures, articles etc. Whatever you are good at. Most people will leave your credentials intact, with the exception of few bad apples who will take the credit themselves.
Link Research Strategies
Starting with your biggest competitors on Google, check the top 10 results for your core keywords with a link tool and record the sites that link to them.
Link checking tools include:
Yahoo Site Explorer
Go through those websites and filter out non-competing, related ones. Record them in your file, together with webmaster email addresses and quick descriptions (so you can recall them later). Once the list grows you can start thinking about ways of getting links from those websites. Some webmasters can be talked into linking with several warm emails, while others may accept payment of some kind. The hardest ones take neither, and are usually the most valuable links, with tons of trust power.
Sometimes it is necessary to ask webmasters to remove a link. It sounds foolish, yet you might find yourself in adult categories with the wrong anchor text. Shoot a quick request for link removal. Don’t worry about automatic links and content scraper sites.
Obviously, you should avoid link farms and aggressive reciprocals.
Avoid mass emails to hundreds of websites using email lists. Make each email sound personal (rather than professional), discuss portions of the websites, products, and articles on the site. Do anything to initiate a good chat with the person in a kind, friendly manner.
Most people will reply in kind, and requesting a link will be easier. One of our sales guys, Randy, swears on the phone (when appropriate) and talks to customer prospects like buddies. This gets a connection otherwise impossible to get with faceless, official corporate speak.
Don’t set up your own little link farms for the sake of getting links.
Work hard on link building for some time until you get a decent amount. After a while, other webmasters and bloggers will start begging you to link to them, so you’ll be in the driver’s seat. Once you get links, getting more will be easier. It’s like money; the rich get richer.