Whatever your site’s topic, whether you are very niche or broad, B2C or B2B, a retailer or a publisher – there are likely to be independent fan sites that overlap with the subjects on your site.
By fan site, I mean fan clubs, unofficial sites, etc – these types of sites are typically run by people who are very passionate about their particular topic. They often serve as a very rich source of information and news about their subject – and are often very keen to link to any appropriate information that gives value to their visitors.
I’ll give a quick introduction to identifying the niches to target and finding appropriate sites to talk to, and then give some tips about how you could get them to link to you.
Choose a Niche
SEOmoz members are a hugely diverse bunch, so I’ll give just a couple of examples to illustrate how this can work. In reality, this is where a bit of brainstorming and ‘thinking outside the box’ could help you identify some potentially useful types of company website.
So, by way of examples (and I’m just looking out of my window here for ideas of companies, don’t read anything into this list):
- An online store that sells second-hand books:
- This type of retailer has it pretty easy: aim to find the fan sites of particular authors or series of books,
- Don’t just go after the biggest names either – there are definitely some more ‘cult’ authors that aren’t as well know but have strong online followings.
- The website of an auto mechanic:
- Approach the fan sites of particular car models,
- Aim to target fan sites on the subject of any particular repair expertise you have as well, such as classic cars or four wheel drives.
- A chain of hotels:
- This company could look towards the fan pages of the particular cities they have properties in,
- They should also consider anything that makes a particular hotel unique; is it near a sports stadium, or in a particular style of architecture?
You’ll find out soon enough that there are fan sites for almost every niche you could ever imagine. Don’t worry about getting a bit abstract in your thinking here.
Of course, some sites won’t have to look too far to find topics that have gained a fandom. For example: if you’re a radio station, then there may be fan sites for your station or for your presenters. If there can be a website explicitly for fans of Ikea in Ohio, then really – anything is possible.
Finding Fan Sites
Honestly, there’s only a little advice that I can give here, beyond ‘Google is your friend’.
- Search for terms such as ‘mustang fan club‘, ‘eric clapton fan site‘ or ‘metal gear solid unofficial site‘ to find sites that Google considers authoritative
- Facebook ‘fan pages’ will often rank highly for these searches, but these may link to an appropriate site (eg: ‘calculator fan club‘ leads us to a Facebook page, which links to The Museum of HP Calculators.)
- Consider also searching for places that might have already collated the information you’re looking for. (eg: ‘list of harry potter fan sites‘ leads us to a very useful wiki page with plenty of sites listed.)
Getting Links from Fan Pages
As with almost every proactive linkbuilding tactic – and with this kind of outreach in particular – we’ll have most success when we offer something to a site that earns us a link from them.
Remember: fan sites are pretty special, particularly since they tend to be keen to link to good quality content about their subject. Just don’t abuse it: they generally have savvy webmasters who can spot if they’re being taken advantage of.
When you start thinking about fan sites, you’ll realize quite quickly that there’s lots more opportunities that are specific to your site, beyond those I’ve outlined here.
It’s always fun to talk to people who are truly passionate about something (whether that happens to be Elgar or Ikea), so go ahead and enjoy putting some of these ideas into action.