Innovative link building

by on 25th February 2011

This is the first post in a two part series on how to engage and attract new audiences purely with the content that you create, whether this is outreach for link acquisition, or content to host on your own website.

Is Innovative Link Building Dead??

Barry Schwartz recently reported on a Webmaster World thread around the topic of innovative link building, and questioned whether new techniques have dried up. Whilst I do believe that the industry is forced to evolve as new technologies become available – and so the approach to link building will undoubtedly evolve as well – there are still trending strategies which remain overlooked and relatively untapped by competitors.

This post will take a look into how we can open up more outreach opportunities by tailoring your content to a new audience, but remaining on-topic and relevant to your websites key targets.

Typically when we look for potential link acquisitions, we naturally look for sites related to a specific niche, and do not go beyond the realms of familiar verticals. Fair play, after-all these are all highly relevant and on-topic websites. For example let’s take a look at the automotive sector:

Automotive Verticals Mind Map

These are just some of the related verticals that can lead to link generation. But why limit yourself to niches and verticals that your competitors will surely be dominating as well? It’s time to break out the box and the confines’ of your ‘niche’ and target untapped, new verticals to acquire links where your competitors would have not thought to go.

Unrelated verticals, unnatural links…

Generally speaking links from websites in unconnected topic verticals look unnatural, but the links themselves will only be viewed as unnatural in terms of the context in which they are defined. However we can use this to our advantage: why not adapt the content to suit the needs of a new vertical? This can be done by ensuring the content contains the contextual targeting that will generate a natural relevance for a link to be placed back to your website.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the automotive sector again and start to include some other verticals:

Automotive Niche Mind Map

Ok now that we have some awesome new verticals to reach out to, how can we tailor content to suit the needs of websites defined by these verticals?

The first step in this process will be the same as if you were identifying blogs within a similar niche, find out the types and styles of posts that engage their audience. Once you have this in mind you can then start to adapt your content ideas to meet their audience base, and so present the web master with tailored new content ideas that will suit both parties.

For example let’s take a location specific website based on topics related to the UK, one content idea could be ’The 10 Most Expensive British Cars Ever Made’. Lets use another more niche example say ‘Toys’, something like ’Model Cars That Cost More Than The Real Thing’ would also work well.

Here are a few other examples:

  • Games That Make Virtual Cars, Real Cars! [Games]
  • Videos To Prove That It’s All About The Car and Not The Girl [Media]
  • The Most Terrifying Roads To Drive In The World [Travel]

And when we really push down the walls…. BOOM!

Exploring Related Automotive Verticals

As a result we end up with a lot more verticals that our competitors have never thought twice about, and these niches don’t end there! As a famous inventor once said “Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future” – Charles F Kettering.

Image credits:


  1. Great post Dan. This is something I’m looking at currently. How much emphasis should there be in the anchor text when pushing these links/articles out? Also if you’re encouraging people to use your ’10 top tip’ posts would you consider this to be duplicate if you pass around?

    • Thanks for the feedback Ash. I would say that the main goal is to gain a link from your outreach, brand anchor text can be just as important as keyword anchor text – my view would be to use what naturally works within the flow of the content. The content ideas in this post are purely as an example to get you thinking outside of the box and relating what first may appear as an unrelated niche, related :-)

  2. Real good read mate.

  3. Good article. Most SEO articles I read I come away with the thought why did you bother writing that and being worried of having spent 5 minutes of my life that I will never get back.

    It always worries me when people say they have run out of ideas for link building. Is that not commercial suicide – telling a client we cannot do anything innovative for your account.

    If you search round you can find companies that still innovate without running the risk of getting your site penalised.

  4. Hi Daniel,

    Nice post!

    I really liked the out of the box ideas, like linking automotive to food. As odd as that sounds, there is actually candy that I enjoy on long drives that I would otherwise rarely eat.
    (or buy for the kids for some peace & quiet ;-)

    So it’s not even that out of the box if you give it some thought.

    Thanks for the inspiration,


    • Hey Otto, thanks for the feedback. Absolutely – just be creative and almost any unrelated niche could potentially become related to give you a contextually relevant link.

  5. Just been reading about link building today! So this post comes at a great time, it seems thinking creatively is the key and not always going with what seems to be the norm. Good post and gives me more to mull over.

  6. I read a lot of posts on link building and this one was the first in a while where I could tell from first glance that it was valuable. Each one of those ideas are spokes on a wheel that support the theme of your site. THIS type of link building is what makes it perfectly clear to the engines as to what the theme of the site is and will allow rankings to stick.

  7. Hey daniel, amazing post – this is probably the perfect companion to the Ultimate Guide 2 Ultimate Guides over on the Ontolo website (well worth a read and can be tailored to fit in with your link acquisition ideas).

  8. A really intelligent way to approach link building or even content strategy – nice one :)

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