Written by Dale Cudmore on 11.05.2018
The Hardest SEO Challenge: How Do You Build Links in “Hard” Niches ⚒️
If you’re trying to build links in a niche like SEO, marketing, or health, you have thousands of options to guest post alone.
You can also make tools, skyscraper posts, and other common link building content fairly easily.
But what if you’re in an “unsexy” niche?
Plumbing, architecture, cleaning, etc. Niches where there aren’t tons of sites that even know what guest posts are.
All these link building strategies that you read about no longer apply. Because when you do a search for “dry cleaning write for us”, nothing comes up.
And when you look for help, all those link building gurus come up short.
What can you do then?
You can throw your hands up and give up, or…you can read the rest of this post. Because I’ve been where you are now, and was forced to figure out ways to build links in unsexy niches.
1. Focus on Content That is Linkable
Just because your niche is hard, doesn’t mean that all content on your site is equally linkable.
Building links to specific product or service pages will be very difficult. Getting links to blog posts and tools you create will also be hard, but much easier than those service pages.
Then you link from those pages to your “money” pages so that they rank better as well.
What kind of content is linkable?
- Skyscraper blog posts
- Glossaries, FAQs
- Industry “secrets”
You can hire freelance web developers for often under $1,000 to create a tool that you can continue to build links to over time.
Find tool ideas that attract links from other “sexy” niches.
For example, I’ve seen several web developer and writing estimate tools on websites that attract dozens or hundreds of links. Visitors answer a few questions and get a general estimate. The one below has 1,500 backlinks to it.
If you search for “plumbing estimate tool” in Google, you only find paid software. These are professional estimate tools, but not an estimate for a typical homeowner who wants a quick and free estimate.
That would be a cheap tool to make and easy to get at least a few dozen links to.
2. Partner With Complementary Niches
This is the most important concept in this post.
Every “hard” niche shares things in common with “easy” niches.
Take a business that does emergency cleaning for flooded houses and apartments, that’s as hard as it gets.
Now think about what other businesses serve the same audience:
- Flooring installers (hard niche)
- Home decorators (easy niche)
- Plumbers (hard niche)
- Mold removers (hard niche)
But wait, most of those are hard niches? That’s not bad either, because you should understand that they are also struggling to build links.
Since you’re not competing for the same jobs, find ways to partner together with those businesses. You can trade recommendations, directly resulting in more revenue, and trade links from various pages on your websites.
When you find easy complimentary niches, you can apply all your typical white hat link building tactics to it:
- Guest posting
- Skyscraper posts
Here’s some more practice at identifying side niches, which may be difficult at first:
- Personal trainers – Can team up with dieticians, weight loss blogs, keto blogs, intermittent fasting blogs, etc.
- Web developers – Can team up with local small business classes to offer free WordPress sites to beginners. Other side niches include entrepreneurship, SEO, non-profits.
- Sock manufacturer – Could team up with local homeless shelters and supply them with some socks. Other side niches include fashion, entrepreneurship (clothing manufacturing), snow sports (who care about learning about warm socks).
This works in every niche, no matter how hard it is.
3. Don’t Skip Manually Built Links
Being in a hard niche actually has its benefits.
Look at the top ranking pages for keywords you want to rank for, and chances are that they don’t have many links themselves.
For example, I was recently looking for a drain snake, and searched for “best drain snakes.” The #1 result right now has a total of 2 referring domains, and 11 backlinks.
Getting a few links, even relatively low quality ones, can still go a long way towards ranking.
So when you’re starting an SEO project in these hard niches, start by building a solid base of:
- Web 2.0 links
- Video site links
- Presentation site links
- Blog comments
Of course you should make them as high quality as you can.
Finally, don’t skip internal links. Good internal linking almost always improves rankings and traffic. Here’s a great case study where organic traffic went up 40% just from internal linking.
4. Find the Links that Your Competitors Have
There’s right and wrong way to do this.
When most people do competitor analysis, they start as they should. They get a list of 50-100 URLs that rank for terms they care about.
Then, they plug them into Ahrefs or MOZ, which is also correct.
Here’s where they mess up. They look through the backlink profile for that specific URL and only determine whether or not they can get those exact links.
Don’t do that.
Yes, it’s great if you can get those links, but it’s way more useful to understand how they got those types of links and then design a strategy around it.
For example, if they have a link as a source in a “how to” article, most link builders email the owner of that article and ask them to link to their own site. Then they stop there.
What you should do instead is compile a huge list of relevant “how to” articles in your niche and contacting them trying to get a link. Now you have hundreds of link prospects instead of one.
You go from a few hundred total link targets (from your initial list of 50-100), to thousands of link opportunities.
Even then, don’t stop there. Look at other pages that have links on those initial sites for even more ideas.
You can’t expect to be spoon fed everything from a tool, good SEOs use them as starting points only and get creative from there.
5. Outsource Link Building to Agencies and Services
For whatever reason, nothing’s working for you, or your cost of links is just too high.
As a last resort you can turn to SEO agencies and link building services.
For one, they have more experience building links in hard niches. Secondly, good agencies have large networks of sites and journalists that they’ve worked with in the past that they can contact to easily build links.
I recommend first trying to build you own links, but measure how much each link costs you.
Then, compare that to the cost that services or agencies are charging, and if the numbers are right, pull the trigger.
Link building in “hard” niches is indeed more difficult than others, but it is possible.
But you need to have a good attitude and expect to persevere through some dead ends. If you approach the link building like you would for an easy niche, you’ll end up giving up before you’ve really challenged yourself.
I’ve given you 5 viable ways to build links. You can choose 1 or 2 to focus on, or do them all if you have the time and resources.
If you have any specific questions about building links for your niche, contact us and we’ll try to help.