How to Build Links For Difficult Industries

If there’s one thing digital PR is not, its boring. There’s always a challenge, but there’s always a solution, and nothing could be closer to the truth when it comes to building links, especially for tricky niches.

While link building is an integral part of SEO, it can also be one of the harder and most time-consuming non-negotiables when it comes to ranking high in the SERPs. Not to mention when a client has a particularly difficult product or service or belongs to a niche industry.

But, we’re here to tell you that securing links for complex clients is not impossible. Here’s a jam-packed how-to guide that will definitely improve your link-building stats. 

Why is Link Building Important?

FYI, if you’re not including link building in your SEO strategy, you need to be. You’re also losing out on big ranking opportunities. 

When you think about how complex Google’s algorithms are and the fact that they’re constantly evolving, links have remained a key aspect in how every search engine deciphers if a site will rank or not. It’s an essential SEO tactic because it lets Google know how authoritative, legitimate, and trustworthy a website and its content is. Plus, sites that have more backlinks are also rewarded by ranking higher in search results. You can;t argue with the truth.

When building links, there are a few critical factors to keep in mind. For example, all links are not created equal. Take a link from somewhere like the Guardian. This authoritative site will naturally have a higher impact on rankings over a link from a newly-created or small site with a low DR. With this in mind, your main focus should be earning links from sites with a higher domain rating than your client’s, and with a decent number of backlinks.

What is Considered a Tricky Niche?

First things first, don’t stress if you realise your client’s business, product or service belongs in the ‘tricky niche’ category. Basically, it’s when an organisation belongs in a sector that’s more difficult to build links for. While there are a variety of reasons why, there are three main criteria:

  • Journalists find the industry difficult to trust.
  • The industry is hard to place.
  • People find the industry difficult to work with.

But you know what? Links can still be built, people!!!

How Can You Build Links For Such Niches?

You probably want to get cracking now, seeing as organic link building does take a bit of time. We’re going to split this section into three, so you can zoom in closer on each to really improve your chances of link building no matter what niche you’re working with:

  • Get creative with your campaign ideas.
  • Make sure journalists can find something of value for their audience.
  • Work with your niche client/industry to go niche with the outreach.

How to Secure Links: The Three Biggest Niche Categories

Let’s build some links!

Hard to Trust

OK, so you/your client has fallen into this category, which can often make them hard for journalists to trust, or for them to not want to associate themselves with them. Typically, these are industries that have a history of using spammy or black-hat SEO tactics, or websites that are not universally appropriate. We’re talking sensitive in nature or explicit, like businesses that have adult or sexual content. 

The following industries can be classed as difficult to trust: (There may be more, so if you feel you have a client in a field that’s not on this list but would be suited, take notes.)

  • Adult
  • Gambling
  • Money transfer or trading
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • CBD Oil
  • Virtual private network (VPN)

If you’ve worked with previous clients in any of these sectors, you’ll know you receive more “no” emails or responses asking for money to link than you would like. So you already know it’s going to be a little harder than if you were building links for, say, a client in the financial industry.

The Solution? Journalists Need Value!

If you already know you’re going to have a task getting journalists to trust yours/your client’s industry, you’re going to have to think outside the box more than normal. This means getting creative with campaign ideas. Journos need to have interesting and tangible stories that will genuinely be of interest and appeal to their readers. This isn’t anything against you or your client – they have targets to hit too.

So, if you give them something they genuinely want, it will make a link much harder to turn away. What’s valuable to a journo, you say?

  • Exclusivity! If you are providing them with something fresh that no one else has covered (and that will also be of definite interest to their readers), you’re in.
  • Fast TATs when it comes to breaking news is essential. Make sure you have expert commentary so you can back it up, too.
  • Journos want data that is easily transferable to their audience. They also want data that will work with the content they’re working on.
  • Give. Them. Visuals. Not only will people stay on a webpage longer if there are images, videos, or data graphics that accompany an article, but it’s also really important for social media. More people will interact with an article that is visually appealing, and that’s a bonus for both the journo and you. 

You also need to be able to offer a journalist a compelling story that they wouldn’t be able to come up with themselves. E.g. a story that they wouldn’t be able to gather info on independently. You can strike jackpot on this if you have data or info that is not available or accessible to a journo (we’re talking in-house data, etc.) or by conducting your own study that would be too time-consuming for them.

And once you become a reliable source to journalists, they are much more likely to come back to you for future articles. 

Hard to Place

This category can also overlap with the above. Hard to place means you also need to think outside the box when it comes to campaign ideas. Whether you’re working with any of the above industries, it’s a good idea to run sessions with your client where you suggest different areas you can place their information or content in. Often, these discussions can lead to genius ideas that go on to be successful SEO campaigns that achieve organic backlinks.

The Solution? Get Creative With Content and Campaign Ideas

Start by thinking of the more generic themes that could be topically relevant or be linked to the niche you are working within. Write things down so you can see them in front of you – word association is often helpful as it can guide you to external areas you hadn’t thought of before. You may come up with words or phrases that match another completely different industry but that could also be associated with the one you’re working on.

This will also help you to join forces with niches that could be complementary to your client’s industry, i.e. less controversial ones. And note – every easy niche has something in common with a difficult one.

For example, the gambling sector (which is notoriously known for its spammy SEO techniques) can be linked to other areas like gaming or sports. Think about how many sports people have endorsed gambling sites (responsibly, of course) in the past. While gambling may not necessarily be something journos want to write about, there are so many that write about sports, which will make the connection and outreach that much easier.

And as a digital PR, you want to give journalists the most desirable and creative stories you can. This means you shouldn’t be afraid to push the boundaries, especially when it comes to acquiring links. After all, the more adventurous the story, the higher its popularity.

Hard to Work With

This again crosses over with the other two obstacles but also has some features of its own. For example, your client’s niche might have an age restriction (i.e adult sectors), or the industry may not be accessible to a wider audience (i.e law, finance, education, etc.) It may also be a massive household name that comes with its own set of restrictions in terms of its individual values and principles and the specific message it wants to convey.

The Solution? Don’t Work Against the Niche

You need to make sure you are constantly working with the niche, and not going against its values. While the above two tips can be acted on with industries that can be malleable, the sectors that are hard to work with mean you need to stay as much inside the box as you can.

To try and get published within your client’s industry means you’ll have to follow a number of suggestions:

  • Use the in-house data of your client and stay relevant to the niche.
  • Manage the expectations of your client.
  • Rely on expert commentary from within your client’s company and niche. 
  • Perform outreach to publications that have high relevance to your client.

You should also consider what kind of leads would be expected to interact with the niche industry you’re working with. Gather as much info from your client about their sector so that you can create campaigns that will directly appeal to the journos most likely to be interested.

Get Those Links Baby

There’s nothing like a good old challenge, eh? OK, securing links for niche industries may feel like a long road ahead at first, but once you get into the swing of things, you’ll find that you probably enjoy learning outside of your comfort zone.

Plus, you’ll find the link-building campaigns for simpler industries so much easier. 

 

Sophie Crosby
Head of Content @ Minty Digital.
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