Link Building in a competitive niche is one of the most difficult marketing tasks I’m asked to do. Not only do I have to work in link-saturated industries, but more times than not I have to find a way to out-rank a “complaint site” and/or Wikipedia. If you’ve ever tried to do this you know how difficult it can be and how it’s necessary to think outside the box in order to net the links you need.

Successful link building in competitive markets takes both traditional as well as Web 2.0 linking tactics to make an impact. How do you avoid being buried in the search results or move above the complaint/Wikipedia site? One way is to work on developing reputation link bait.

What is reputation link bait?

Reputation link bait is the combination of two marketing strategies: pitching the media with an interesting story, and developing link bait. Traditionally, media pitches involve floating story ideas to journalists in conjunction with an upcoming event, while link bait is written to attract links from a wider audience by using controversial content. Reputation link bait uses each tactic, but with a twist—instead of promoting events and controversy, it focuses on promoting a company’s overall image through positive buzz. In a nutshell, reputation link bait is a tactic used to promote a company using newsworthy and trendy angles to build a positive corporate reputation.

As a linking tactic, reputation link bait makes sense. Done well, it offers the potential to generate a lot of quality links in a Google friendly manner while establishing your company as an industry leader.

Developing a reputation link bait angle

Spinning a positive corporate image isn’t something new, but unlike traditional marketing, reputation link bait doesn’t wait for opportunities to come around. Instead, reputation link bait is a process of creating high profile “angles” to pitch. Let’s look at two angles you can use to attract links using reputation link bait:

Capitalizing on current trends. There’s a lot of support and publicity behind the “buy local, go green” movement. Take advantage of this hot trend by turning some of your products green and developing a full publicity and link bait campaign to promote the changes.

Modify a number of your best selling products to use recycled materials and then blog about the positive results of your new green products. Write a two-part series on the process highlighting the outcomes and use environmentally focused social news sites like Hugg and TreeHugger as well as the general news sites like Digg and Reddit.

Build testimonial links. A single positive testimonial is good, but 50 is reputation making. Using the testimonials you have in place plus the new ones coming in as a result of going green, look for a line of commonality in each. Once you have it, develop an article series around the product or service everyone is raving about.

Promote the piece on social news sites such as Digg, Reddit as well as StumbleUpon.

Encourage comments and return the favor by commenting out. Doing so helps attract more comments from people with similar experiences and the attention of the media who monitor the social news sites. And don’t forget to contact the people who gave the testimonials. There’s a high probability they have web sites and blogs and will link to where they’re mentioned in your article series.

Take the testimonial angle a step further by getting celebrity and non-competing experts to endorse your brand. Offer a year’s supply of your product in exchange for a testimonial link from their websites, blogs, and newsletters. Once the links are in place, launch a full scale media blitz announcing the endorsement.

If you keep promoting the positive aspects of your business through reputation link bait, two things will happen: First, you’ll see which tactics consistently work and can invest resources into these venues, as doing so means more inbound links; and second, you’ll create positive link marketing momentum with the media and within the new industries you’re tapping into. You’ll find building links for competitive terms becomes easier when you have new sources to draw links from and more positive content in the search results than your competitors.

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