B2B SEO: Link Building

To get you through the weekend with a healthy dose of B2B SEO, here’s another guest post by my colleague Erik-Jan Bulthuis, the third in this series, after B2B SEO: Marketing strategy for specific niches and B2B Content SEO.

In this third article of the series about B2B SEO we’ll be talking about link building. We expect the reader to have a basic knowledge on link building. We won’t name the standard B2C link building techniques and focus us on the differences between B2B and B2C link building. What are those differences? We first mention some differences so we can explain them later on:

  • There are less linkerati in a B2B market
  • A B2B website needs lees links

There are less websites capable of linking to you. A B2B market is much smaller than a B2C market. Compare the travel market with the market of industrial pumping systems. The number of blogs in the travel sector is hundreds of times higher than in the sector of industrial pumps. This means it’s much more important to keep being friends with your linkerati. Keep in contact, comment on their blogs and give away a nice scoop.

On the other hand: you need less links in a B2B market than in a B2C market. This is because of the simple reason that your competitors don’t have a lot of links as well. Of course this doesn’t work in the situation of polysemy: if one of your B2B keywords is an important keyword in a B2C market as well, it won’t be easy to rank for it.
However, specific terms like ‘peristaltic pumps’ are not that competitive. And for those terms, your competitors are having problems finding links just like you.

Enlarge your linkerati group

AS we just said, one of the biggest problem in B2B link building is the small size of the linkerati group. Therefore, it’s important to keep in touch with that small group. It is even better to enlarge your potential linkerati. Your niche might be very small but there are always enough related topics whose linkerati might be willing and able to link to you too.

B2B Link Building tip #1

Every B2B company has suppliers. Take for example the case of our industrial pump client. There must be another company building the machines which are used to build the pumps. Make an arrangement with your supplier and let him write a case on their site about how they build your machines. Make it interesting for their visitors, but don’t forget the backlink. In this way, you can transform your offline network to be your linkerati.

B2B Link Building tip #2

For some niches, there is not much interesting to say. In such a case, you might want to enlarge your linkerati by blogging about other company related issues. Start a blog about running a B2B company. Corporate blogging isn’t as easy as it sounds, but of course it’s an option. Doing link building for such a blog shouldn’t be a big problem.

Linkbait in a B2B market: knowledge

In the more B2B markets, knowledge is your USP. It’s not strange that most B2B companies are somewhat afraid of sharing their expertise. But there is another side of this coin: if you are afraid of sharing your knowledge, other people will be looking for it. A website showing off your expertise and knowledge will attract many visitors. If your niche market isn’t that big, people will soon recognize you as an authority in your area. And good content always attracts some links. This is the main advantage of B2B link building: you do have the capacity to write good content. Content is still king, even for link building.

B2B Link Building Tip #3

Start a blog in your niche. Don’t only tell about your successes but also share linkworthy content. Make usable checklists, compare products or solutions with each other, tell about new developments in the market. Let users comment and react on their reactions. Write in a personal way to build friendships, to increase the chance of those people linking to you.

B2B Link Building tip #4

Another way to share knowledge is setting up a wiki. Put a wiki on your site and let everyone participate. Start with a lot of enthusiasm and keep networking with the people who write on your wiki as well. After a while you’ll be an authority within your market. Everyone writing about your niche has to mention you.

Linkbait for a larger crowd

Even if your product is so boring, there are always opportunities to do something with. Industrial Search Enige Marking quotes Danny Sullivan:

Find a way to make your topic relate to nerds or a large society that frequently expresses their opinion online. (…) With most link bait you are not trying to gain topical expert links… more likely citations from people with a mild interest in the topic (and how you related it to their nerdy interests).

B2B Link Building tip #5

Create a link bait action for your market, that has a strong focus on a different but related market with more linkerati. Place this link bait on social media sites, use press releases (if your link bait has some news value) and promote your link bait in different ways.

Which kind of link bait you have to use depends from case to case. Let’s give a few examples:

  • Let BMW write a piece of content about their open source Telematics system. Let them say something about what innovations have occurred. Sent press releases to blogs of open source fanatics.
  • Let our industrial pump provider make a movie in which all things are placed in the cutter: car tires, potatoes, bottles of shampoo etc. Let ‘Will it blend?’ on YouTube inspire you. Put the movie on your site and spread it through social media.

Expert knowledge and link building

You don’t have large numbers of competitors as a B2B company. However, you do sell a complex product. Therefore, it’s quite easy to make yourself an expert within your market. This gives plenty of room for doing link building.

B2B Link Building tip #6

Suppose that our industrial pump manufacturer is looking for high quality links. There must be a few high quality websites about technical stuff which are looking for interesting case studies. Make yourself the authority within your market and place such a case study on a big, high authority website.

Concluding remarks

B2B link building requires different goals than B2C link building. It’s less important to get high PageRank backlinks, because your competition doesn’t have them as well. The quality of B2B backlink isn’t measured in PageRank but in relevancy. B2B link building is easier and more difficult than B2C link building. Easier because you have good content; more difficult because your linkerati group is relative small.

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47 Responses

  1. ElijahBy Elijah on 16 August, 2008

    Link building is essential, and it’s something that I continually struggle with. What a great resource you’ve provided though. I’ll be ready more thoroughly later on.

  2. JonBy Jon on 16 August, 2008

    Thanks for part 3 of a very useful series – one that’s not covered well on other sites.

    A quick question – what do “umfeld” and “gunbaarheid” mean?

    Cheers, Jon

  3. Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 16 August, 2008

    @Jon: heh, some stuff slipped through in the translation, now properly translated them. They’ve become full sentences as those words are very hard to translate directly into English.

  4. neilBy neil on 16 August, 2008

    id say it was more important to have high PR sites linking to you, than to have a high PR yourself! good Link building tips thanks

  5. JonBy Jon on 16 August, 2008

    Aaah, thanks Joost

    Cheers, Jon

  6. Erik-JanBy Erik-Jan on 16 August, 2008

    @Jon: Umfeld isn’t Dutch by the way. In the Dutch language we copy all kind of English terms and even two German ones: umfeld and uberhaupt :)

    @All: Tnx for the compliments…

  7. Philippe SchailleeBy Philippe Schaillee on 16 August, 2008

    Very helpful tips !


  8. Rich PearsonBy Rich Pearson on 16 August, 2008

    Great tips indeed, particularly on the wiki. IMHO, this is a huge opportunity if done right.

    Another opportunity for those who produce a decent amount of content is to ensure that any re-use of your content gets a link back – I wokr for Attributor and we’ve launched a beta test using our crawling to identify the top link opportunities. It’s free if you want to check it out – you can also reach me at rich(at)attributor(dot)com

  9. Chris PetersBy Chris Peters on 16 August, 2008

    There are times that I want to give up on link building for my B2B clients. Thank you for your ideas to get that “spark” going once again!

  10. LodewijkBy Lodewijk on 16 August, 2008

    Nice article, 1st time i’ve read something about B2B linkbuilding with a nice example company used..
    Keep up the good work

  11. Toilet Paper EntrepreneurBy Toilet Paper Entrepreneur on 18 August, 2008

    Just wanted to say… the comment bubbles are really, really cool!

    - Mike Michalowicz

  12. Link Building BlogBy Link Building Blog on 18 August, 2008

    Great article! I’ve done a lot of custom link building campaigns for B2B and my clients will get a good read out of this! I’ll make sure to put this in my next newsletter and blog about it!

  13. Ken SavageBy Ken Savage on 21 August, 2008

    Nice. Not enough stuff out there for B2B although you’re doing great here, Erik-Jan.

  14. DAGBy DAG on 1 September, 2008

    Hi Joost, I’m DAG, a italian web worker.
    I want to trnslate your post in my language… I can?


  15. Erik-JanBy Erik-Jan on 1 September, 2008

    @DAG: Tnx for the compliments :) I’m the author of the article so if you give me some credits (with a link to http://www.justerik.com, my new B2B blog) and a link to the English version, I don’t think oost would mind.

  16. DAGBy DAG on 1 September, 2008

    Thanks to you Erik…
    In a few days I publish your article with a brief introduction written by me…
    I add a couple of links
    1. www [dot] justerik [dot] com
    2. yoast [dot] com/b2b-seo-link-building/

  17. MarkBy Mark on 9 September, 2008

    Finally… a post that doesn’t use ‘widgets’ as the example product! :)

  18. seo companyBy seo company on 24 October, 2008

    Thanks Erik-Jan, some really helpful information here!

  19. renantecBy renantec on 19 November, 2008

    Wow this is great site finally I know what is link building.

  20. Bee MediaBy Bee Media on 24 March, 2009

    thanks for sharing I like your article and I enjoy reading your post..
    thank you for additional knowledge and Idea..

  21. link building servicesBy link building services on 24 March, 2009

    exactly Eric, that was great and simply the best article about b2b link building. My team have done it so many times for my b2b clients. And your article is perfectly fit in my show specially for my those clients who looking for great page rank as well. :)


  22. SEO Link buildingBy SEO Link building on 20 April, 2009

    It is nice ,and good for increase the speed of Link Building.

  23. AchelBy Achel on 12 May, 2009

    Useful tips about SEO and link building.. Thank you

  24. Movéo Integrated BrandingBy Movéo Integrated Branding on 20 May, 2009

    These are great examples. It’s tough with B2B because each industry has it’s own niche sites, so you have to learn about a whole new community for each client. You’re right though, much of the time the competition is in the same boat. I’d recommend keeping track of the linkerati for each industry so you don’t forget, if you work with multiple clients.

  25. SEO BettyBy SEO Betty on 21 July, 2009

    Great link-building tips! Can’t wait to try some of them out!

  26. Anirban DasBy Anirban Das on 11 August, 2009

    But should maintain the contextual link quality as well…I guess..other wise u giving the right direction.Link Building Services India-http://bestsolutionofit.com/

  27. bunnyBy bunny on 18 August, 2009

    excellent info. Keep it up

  28. EnadinBy Enadin on 9 November, 2009

    Very good post ,thank you very much , I need this .

  29. monuBy monu on 18 November, 2009

    amazing information buddy. will use it

  30. Brand GreenBy Brand Green on 29 November, 2009

    Excellent info on SEO. will put to use a few


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