How to build white-hat links for controversial products
Link building is a key component of SEO – getting higher in the Google rankings. The 2014 Search Metrics ranking factors report found that links were the 4th most important ranking factor – so they’re still pretty important!
But link building is hard work. You need to win the trust of the website owner. Offer them something of value in exchange for a link. And these days links need to be from good quality, reputable sites.
Link building is hard work
How hard link building is becomes amplified when you do it for controversial products, such as electronic cigarettes, gambling sites or adult sites.
It can be extremely difficult to build links for sensitive products; due to the fact that most websites don’t want to be associated with these products. It can be tempting to go through the black-hat link building method, but this isn’t necessary and is bound to be damaging in the longer term.
You really have to think outside the box if you want to stand any chance of building good links to your website – in a white-hat way.
When building links you might automatically assume that going down your product’s industry is the best route, but this isn’t always the case. If for example your product is within the gambling industry, building links on a gambling websites can be a very costly and risky exercise. Often these websites are also owned by your competitors, so there’s very little chance of gaining a link.
The best way to build to links for sensitive products is to think outside the box, a good option is to build links through business/entrepreneur websites as mentioned by Reddit user kaloyankulov in a recent thread. These sites appreciate good quality articles and are a great way to sell your product subtly.
How to pitch your article
When pitching your article to websites that you want to be featured on, you should consider these points (especially if you’re in a controversial niche):
- Try not to write identical pitches – write a new one for each site. You want the reader to identify that you are specifically targeting their website
- If possible, talk about what you know about their style and tone of their current articles, how your article would fit right in
- Don’t be apologetic or embarrassed about the product
- Describe the benefits of your article or link for the website owner’s audience
- When pitching to different websites, you want the pitch to sound natural and personal as possible
As an agency we work with a client called Electronic Cigarette Shop, which was actually one of our first ever clients. Electronic Cigarettes are seen by the public as a sensitive product, and I don’t mind telling you where we went wrong (initially), and then went right (eventually).
Our first initial thought was to create articles, which we could publish to e-cigarette websites. It’s fast growing industry and entirely relevant – and we thought site owners would love the idea. But we didn’t have much luck at the start, as most of their sites were run by other e-cigarette companies! Other sites were low quality – so we found ourselves a bit stuck.
As e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking real cigarettes, we thought we’d contact websites that produce health and lifestyle blogs. Again, they felt it was still too sensitive to its readers and decided not to publish our articles on their websites.
Since then our focus has changed to promoting infographics, articles for marketing sites and self-improvement blogs, with better outcomes. We always focus on fewer sites and better quality ones – slowly but surely we’ve had good success.
An example from the gambling industry
This post was in part inspired by Sam Miranda, who wrote a case study about white-hat building in the gambling industry. He found writing articles aimed at gambling, marketing/business and shareable (viral) content were the best options for this industry. His advice was to explore the niche with your product; and to write articles that make people think differently about your product.
And you should remember that this process can be time-consuming. But once you’ve built the trust with a website you should be able to continue to post content there in the future.
Why white-hat link building is the best option for sensitive products?
White-hat link building may take more time than black-hat building, but the long term reward is better.
As long as your content is original, engaging and providing readers insights in what they wouldn’t necessarily know, then link building for sensitive products can be done effectively and produce results.