13 ways to build links for an unpopular site

13 ways to build links for an unpopular site

I’m currently developing a link building strategy for a client who is educating the general public on a topic that is controversial, and popular opinion is not in favor of the content that my client produces. However, the content being produced is high quality from experts.

I’m not going to get into a debate about who is right or wrong on the topic, but instead pose the question:

How do you build links when people don’t like you?

Photo of real eggs that are angry at a Cadbury egg

It’s an interesting challenge and it’s not quite the same as link building for boring industries, which is covered by Paddy Moogan and here by John Mcelborough.

It’s more about thinking creatively about how you get get links without ruffling feathers.

So here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

1. Get links from your friends and partners. 

This is the obvious first step and one that this site has tackled well

2. Get press coverage and leverage social media

This client and site have also done a great job of generating moments that were covered by the media. This site is also doing a good job of promoting new content via their supporters in social media.

3. Sponsor or speak at events

This site has also tackled this tactic successfully and continues to find opportunities to participate in events to educate the event attendees (and to garner press coverage and links).

4. Reclaim broken links.

Here’s how to do that:

  • Find links that are pointing to the site, but are resolving into a 404.
  • You find the 404 pages through Google and Bing Webmaster Tools or Screaming Frog
  • Then find the sites linking to those pages (by using tools like Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs, SEMRush, etc).
  • Then either 301 redirect the page that was deleted, or outreach to the external webmaster asking them to fix the link.

5. Get links for images that are being shared

Along a similar train of thought, make sure that you’re getting links from people who are “borrowing” your images. There are some great posts about how to do from Adam Melson: Link Opportunities Using Just Your Logo,  and Jason Stinnett: how to use Google’s Search by Image for Link Building

6. Build your internal links

Think about where you can link to your new optimized content from other pages on your site that rank well. Alternatively, perhaps you can link to the content from a new blog post you’re publishing.

7. Get links from sites that mention you, but don’t link.

And here’s how to do that (thanks for the easy URL to lift Rand!)

8. Infographic submission.

If you have infographics on your site you can submit them to these directories., or this list here.

9. Make it easy for your visitors to share your content

  • Use the native social media sharing buttons on your content
  • Incorporate “Tweet This” links into your data driven content.
  • Make sure your infographics have easy embed codes.

10. Check backlink profiles of any sites on your side of the issue to find link opportunities.

11. Answer Questions on Yahoo Answers or Quora or WikiAnswers

Depending on your client you’ll need to answer transparently as the website brand owner and be careful of ruffling feathers while doing so.

12. Develop relationships with your supportive reporters and bloggers

And make sure to send them a note when you publish new interesting content…

13. Utilize your email list (if you have one) and make it easy for your email supporters to share.

Make sure to ask them in your email newsletters. It’s amazing what kind of lift you have when you put a clear ask to share in a post or email!

Do you have any other ideas? Have you had to build links for sites in unpopular categories?

Please let me know what white hat tactics you’ve used in the comments below.