There is a lot of buzz going around these days on how artificial link building techniques will be increasingly penalized over the time to come. And no this is not just referring to Google, Yahoo too also seems to have begun devaluing links coming paid directories for example (they simply don’t have a Matt Cutts to help raise the webmaster rage). Anyway it is easy to notice that the only off site SEO promoting techniques that can be considered 100% white hat are those that fall in the viral marketing category.
The problem now is that viral marketing although very simple in concept is extremely difficult to implement. To help you in your quest I will show you 4 real life examples of viral marketing strategies that worked.
1)Digital Point Forums
One of the most successful webmaster forums around the web, the key to DP’s success relies on offering a marketplace, generically called B/S/T (buy sell trade). This, in conjunction with the fact that new users have to reach 50 posts before posting there, brought an enormous success. Another interesting twist is the fact that this forum openly allows its users to sell the spots in their signature and there is quite a strong market for this sector alone.
2)The Admin Zone
A forum dedicated to forum webmasters, this site excels at offering the community a few invaluable mechanisms for creating buzz around new forums. The Launch Team sub-forum basically highlights 3 or 4 new forums monthly which receive quite a lot of new users and quality posts. The Exchange sub-forum allows forum webmasters to exchange posts and occasionally links in an easy manner. The viral mechanism which triggers traffic is the fact that before you can join the Exchange, you must be an active member for the Launch Team crew.
A humor website, which also boasts a forum, this is the classic example of a site achieving fame due to its content. The excellent editorial crew managed to create an unique sub-culture due to such goodies like “Horrors of Porn” and “Awful Link of the Day”. The forum is one of the very few which only allows paid members and the strange part is that there are a lot of them.
Not exactly a very popular forum, but still impressive with 300 members in less than 2 months. The viral marketing used by Lars initially included a referral contest program and a lot of buzz from fellow bloggers, including an entry in the very influential about.com. What kept visitors coming though were the emerging post exchange and favors sub-forums as well as offering free exposure to members’ blogs via RSS.
It is important to remember though that creating a successful viral marketing campaign does not rely solely on creating these services. Someone used to say that creating a website was like creating a mall in the middle of Sahara. A successful viral marketing must also be seeded. If you write great articles submit them to social bookmarking sites, if you have a new killer feature write a press release or buy some reviews in some high traffic blogs. These methods should not by pointed at creating backlinks, because that would be like using a cannon to break an egg. It is the viral aspect that matters and which can have the long term effect you are hoping.