Tamar Weinberg pointed to an interesting topic over at the HighRankings forums about link building for big brands. Although the thread was opened over a year ago, the discussion lit up again and the subject remains interesting. A good reason to dedicate this episode of Link Building Strategies to link building for big brands.
So how do big brands build links? Well, in most cases they don’t, at least not actively. Just ‘being alive’ often is enough to attract several links a day from different places. A product launch, a CEO leaving the company, an angry customer, a study at a university or even a cool tv ad can result in fresh links. In other words, like Jill said, “they get links by virtue of their brand name”.
The link building challenge of big brands isn’t in obtaining new links, but in using the strength of these links optimally. Converting link juice isn’t very hard, but certainly worth the effort.
Make sure that your domain gets the links
It sounds pretty easy, but apparently it isn’t: put something online before you start an offline campaign. If you’re launching a new product and still have to set up a page for it when the first ads have been aired, you’re too late. Affiliates, domainers and other clever folks are fast as lightning, or at least faster than your designers. If they manage to beat you with their page or site, they will attract the links and traffic. And they’ll rank.
Another pretty hard thing to believe is that some companies still use agencies that send out press releases hosted on a third party domain. This means that every website that writes about your release will probably end up linking to your PR company. Great deal for them, but not for you. Make sure that your domain gets the juice, since you’re probably already paying them too much.
Tip number three is to set up profiles of your most important employees. In stead of linking to sources like Wikipedia, online media will link to your site more often when they’re writing about the company’s CEO, CFO or CFETWTF.
Make sure that the right page gets the links
Large companies attract links to their home page by the dozen, but you -and Google- want links to be as targeted as possible. This doesn’t mean that you have to get in touch with every single webmaster that links to your home page, but you certainly want the best links to be perfect. Contact the websites that send the most traffic, send visitors that click through to lots of different pages (do these visitors have to search for what they were looking for?), or just are extremely relevant to a specific page, and ask if they can alter the link target. After thanking them for the initial link, of course.
Get rid of the ‘click here’s
Good links can result in better rankings, but good descriptive links can result in awesome rankings. Anchor text helps, so make sure that the most relevant links and the ones coming from authority domains have the right anchor text, in stead of just your company name or ‘click here’.
Control the link juice
So, your pretty flash page managed to attract hundreds or thousands of links. Too bad that flash pages still suck for SEO and aren’t able to pass link strength to other pages on your site optimally. Make sure that the juice can flow around to pages that make you money, have the ability to rank, or -ideally- both.
Get those extra ‘special’ links
The ad agencies of big brands usually know how to get offline attention, their social media specialists will hopefully manage to reach bloggers and social networks, but both probably don’t know where they can find the ‘special’ spots. You know, those pages or sites that can give you that extra little boost. That’s where link building -or hiring a link builder- can mean the difference between just being a top brand and being a top brand with top rankings.
It pretty much like Brian said in the original forum thread; although big brands attract lots of links just because they exist, link building is needed to help sharpen their link profile to become more keyword targeted.