white hat SEOMany tout link building as a laborious and often unsuccessful venture. Sure it’s hard work that requires manual research, networking and a bit of schmoozing – but it’s not impossible. There are some really easy ways to do the research and compile lists of sites to reach out to…and you don’t even have to spend much time doing it!

Consider the below tips before you start on your next whitehat link building adventure.

Personal Websites

These days just about everyone and their mom has a blog. That means your employees and your customers do too! Check through your list of employees and clients and think about opportunities to garner a link on their sites. Sure not every one of your clients or employees sites will be exactly what you want, but pick out the ones that are applicable. Think about a value proposition before you approach the employee or client. Why should they link to you? For clients you might offer to add them to your own website in return or offer a discount on their next purchase.

For link builders who might not have direct access to a client’s employee list or client list – try some research. Check through LinkedIn search, Twitter search and even Facebook search. Many employees will list employers on Facebook. Then add your findings to a list and approach your link building client with this opportunity as a way to garner some good “low hanging fruit” type links. Have them do the dirty work of reaching out to make it more personal and it’ll likely improve the success rate.

Brand Mentions

Working with large brands I’ve seen this many times – websites large and small write about their brand but don’t link! If they are willing to write about the brand don’t you think they’d be willing to link too? Okay, maybe not all the time … but sometimes certainly!

Set up a Google alert for your brand name. Also set up Google alerts for misspellings of your brand name. As brand mentions roll into your e-mail compile a list and prioritize the opportunities. Every month make it a goal to reach out to at least some of these sites and ask for a link back to your site.  Every now and again, as applicable, let the writer/webmaster know about news or information about your products, services, awards, etc… Since they were willing to write about you without you knowing, they might be willing to write about you again – so give them the information to do so. It might garner some good links to internal product pages.

Industry Resource List

Between library sites, government sites, and even education websites – there are many resource lists that I like to call industry lists. You’ve seen them, a list of a large number of resources for the casual web visitor to peruse at their leisure. In my experience there are industry lists for just about every single industry out there.

Using advanced search commands look for these industry lists. Use search commands looking for a number of your competitors brand names mentioned on a site. Say you’re Alltel. You have quite a few big name competitors: Verizon, Virgin Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, etc… Do a search like this: “Verizon” “virgin mobile” “sprint” “AT&T” “list”. Dig through the list and find an industry list where Alltel isn’t listed but should be and reach out to that webmaster. Another option is to have your client reach out directly (or you – from a branded e-mail address), which may increase the likelihood of being listed on a .edu, .gov, or library site.

Charities

Especially true this time of year, businesses donate to charity. Talk about a pretty juicy link! Most non-profit websites are .orgs, have a lot of incoming links and many have a lot of traffic. If you’re a partner, sponsor, on the board, or otherwise involved with a charity look for link building opportunities. Almost all charities should have sponsors and/or an acknowledgement page on their site.

As link builders you should look at a client’s newsroom and press releases for charities they are donating to if your client isn’t a constant source of information (which is 99% the case in my experience). Then do a bit of research to find those sites and if they have a place for a link. Present your client with a list of opportunities and have their PR team do the dirty work for you to ask for links or logos on the site. Remember – if they opt for logos, don’t forget to customize that alt text!

These are just a few ways you can use some whitehat techniques to help improve the number of unique domains linking to your site. Feel free to share additional ideas in the comments below!