You’ve almost certainly heard of crowdfunding by now. You’ve possibly even contributed to a couple of campaigns in the past. Famous products like the Oculus Rift, Pebble watch, SkyBell video doorbell, and Tile location devices were all originally launched and funded using crowdfunding.
But did you know that crowdfunding has more value and utility for businesses beyond simple fundraising?
For savvy businesses and digital marketers who are willing to try something new, there are actually two proven and effective link building strategies that enable existing businesses to leverage crowdfunding as a link building platform. One strategy involves donating to other campaigns, while the second strategy requires you to work on the campaign side of things. Both offer tremendous SEO value and promotional opportunities.
In the simplest terms, crowdfunding is a viral method of raising capital for a business idea through the joint effort of friends, family members, colleagues, customers, private investors, and interent users. It allows entrepreneurs and business owners to push out an idea in the form of a “campaign,” which is then shared and promoted via crowdfunding platforms, social media, and other traditional and non-traditional marketing and PR channels.
The beauty of crowdfunding is that entrepreneurs can present finished or unfinished ideas, reach the masses, gain validation of concept, refine the concept with the capital raised, and build products and services that people actually want. It essentially takes the traditional business funnel and turns it upside down – and it works beautifully.
Crowdfunding has gone from basically non-existent 15 years ago to a $17.2 billion dollar industry in North America alone – and the industry shows no signs of slowing down! There were a total of 6.5 million crowdfunding campaigns in 2019 and the funds raised through crowdfunding platforms was up 33.7 percent year-over-year.
But it’s more than a method for raising capital. While that’s certainly the primary focus of users – and will continue to be – there’s another side to crowdfunding. Its popularity and viral nature means it naturally propagates links and exposure. And for entrepreneurs and brands that are looking for ways to enhance SEO and link building efforts, crowdfunding represents a powerful and untapped strategy.
In this article, we’re going to focus on two primary ways crowdfunding can be leveraged as a channel for link building. You can think of them as two sides of the same coin. On one side, there’s a method that allows you to contribute to other campaigns and earn links in the process. On the flip side of the coin, we present a unique strategy that enables you to launch your own campaign, raise money, and generate backlinks as a secondary byproduct. You may find one or both of these strategies useful or inspiring. Try whichever one speaks to you the most and let us know how it impacts your link building efforts.
Strategy number one doesn’t require you to come up with an idea, launch a campaign, or even raise funds. With this strategy, you participate on the contributor side of things. In other words, you’re making donations to other existing campaigns.
In order to understand how this strategy works, you have to understand how crowdfunding works. With crowdfunding, businesses/entrepreneurs launch campaigns with target fundraising goals. And in order to persuade people to donate money, they offer small benefits or rewards. Generally speaking, there are different reward levels. The more you give, the more you get in return.
To refresh you on how this works, consider one of Kickstarter’s hot campaigns in early 2020: LastTissue. Supporters are given the opportunity to contribute and receive escalating rewards in return for the amount they give.
Pledge $39 and you get three packs of tissues. Pledge $49 and you get four packs of tissues. There are increasing rewards at $69, $89, $109, and $125. The final pledge category, which is $139 or more, provides 14 packs of tissues, membership in something called the “Tree Hugger Club,” and the opportunity to help choose colors for the final product.
This is just one example. Campaigners can use almost anything they want to reward donors. This includes products, paid travel expenses, membership, future discounts, and…yes…even backlinks.
While paying for backlinks is generally frowned upon by Google, this is one example of the few legal ways to purchase backlinks from websites. Google doesn’t consider supporting startups a violation of its terms of service – and that’s exactly what you’re doing. You just so happen to be getting a backlink as one of your perks.
The contributing for links strategy is pretty simple. It involves a three-step process where you:
The first step is the most challenging phase of the process, but you can streamline your efforts by knowing how to search for opportunities on Google. There are a couple of different search strings that tend to produce good results:
In the “website url” portion of the search, you’ll plug in your favorite crowdfunding platform – like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
Let’s show you a quick example in which we run a search for the following:
When we run that search, one of the first results is for a novel called Savage Hunters by Adam Smith.
While the first few rewards are all pretty standard, things get interesting once you pledge $150 or more. As the description explains: “Your company will be thanked by name in the front of the book in all editions in a special Business Sponsor section. Included will be: your company name, a 100-character business description, and a link to your website (all to be provided by the business)…”
So for $150, you get a backlink and small business promo. (You also get a signed copy of the book, for whatever that’s worth!) While you’d have to research the specifics of the website where your backlink would be placed and other pertinent details, you get the idea.
This strategy is still in its infancy, which means it can be challenging to find good linking opportunities. You’ll have to spend some time running Google searches, filtering out campaigns, and looking for opportunities that are cost-effective. However, they do exist. And as campaigners start to learn about the perks of offering backlinks as rewards, we expect to see this become the next popular reward strategy in crowdfunding.
Now for the second link building strategy, which involves working on the campaign side of things to earn back links and SEO credibility for key search terms.
With this strategy, an existing business launches a crowdfunding campaign for a new product, service, or opportunity. The objective here is two-fold.
Objective number one is to leverage the domain authority of established crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to gain exposure for relevant search terms.
Search Engine Watch explains how Leed Bicycle Solutions was able to do this just a few years ago. They did their research and notice that Kickstarter had the eight place search ranking for the search term “electric bike kit.” Naturally, this made a Kickstarter campaign the perfect channel for launching their electric bike conversion kit. By using meaty keywords like “electric bike kit” and “electric bike conversion kit” on their campaign page, they were able to indirectly appear on the first page of Google for their desired search terms.
Objective number two is to use a viral crowdfunding campaign as a PR focal point to build inbound links to your website. With this method, you launch a compelling campaign and then use it as “link bait” for other bloggers, journalists, podcasters, social media influencers, news websites, etc.
Pebble, which was able to raise well over $10 million for its first smart watch, is the perfect example. If you run a Google search for “Pebble AND Kickstarter,” you’ll see hundreds of news stories and blog posts about the brand. Many of them come from authoritative domains like TechCrunch, QZ, Wired, The Guardian, CNN, Business Insider, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc., and dozens of other websites.
While the average campaign isn’t going to raise millions of dollars and earn thousands of links, it’s not unreasonable to think a moderate campaign could generate 100 or more backlinks. It happens all the time – and there’s nothing stopping you from giving it a try.
As you consider implementing these two crowdfunding link building strategies, it’s helpful to know where to focus your time and energy. For the most part, your efforts will center on platforms like:
At SEO.co, we specialize in providing our clients with white label link building services that enhance SEO, increase exposure, and drive conversions. If you’re looking for assistance with traditional or non-traditional link building strategies, we can help. Not only do we have years of experience in the field, but we also have a rich network of connections, a stable of talented U.S.-based writers, and a proven track record of success in what is a difficult industry to master. As an additional resource for your link building efforts, I would check out the best link building tools.
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