The three main components of basic search engine optimization (SEO) include: keyword research, onsite optimization and today’s topic, link building. The practice of link building is an off-page component of SEO which is often overlooked by small business owners, yet plays a vital role in a website’s standings with search engines.
PROVEN LINK BUILDING STRATEGIES
So you’ve built a website and created new, relevant content that you feel the world will want to read. Now, do you put down your pen, turn off your computer and wait for your readers to flock to your site? Unfortunately, the theory, “If you build it, they will come” just doesn’t apply to this situation. Don’t quit just yet - with a planed outline for sharing your latest masterpiece you can easily put that content to work growing your business.
Share on Social Networking Sites - The first place to share links to your new content is through your business & personal accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. This is where your friends and followers are. They often know you and your brand, have an interest in your business and are most likely to appreciate and share your content. Further, make it easy for your readers to share your content by always including social network widgets.
Seek Out Industry Specific Networks and Blogs - Backlinks have the best chance of success when they are placed on sites with high PR or Page Rank (check out this free tool Page Rank Checker) and that appeal to your target market. Look for reputable networking sites, forums and web directories within your industry that allow you to join, create a profile and post relevant content. Remember to place helpful comments on other member posts as well, including a link to your article or website when appropriate.
Request Publication With Online Magazines - Research and compile a short list of online publications that best match your content, and then visit each to gather information about their submission guidelines and deadlines. Next, craft a specific letter of introduction for each outlining your intentions and qualifications, and explaining how the information you’ve provided will be of interest to and benefit their audience. Be prepared for some rejection, and keep trying. If done right, this can be an excellent source of promotion.
Submit to Social Content Publishing Sites - Sites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Squidoo and Reddit all hold high page rank value, and people flock to these sites seeking content that appeals to their specific interests. This makes them extremely valuable for link building. Here’s a huge list of additional Submission Directories for your consideration as well.
Submit to Search Engines- Having your link appear on other websites will raise your visibility. However, directly submitting your site to search engines will boost your rankings even more. (and resubmitting your site every 3-6 months is recommended). Luckily there are free tools like Submit Express that make it easy to submit to multiple search engines all at once.
Ping Your Feed - Your website and blog should always include an RSS feed. Distributing this feed is a powerful means of creating backlinks. This can be done in a matter of minutes on several sites such as Pingomatic, Pingler, Feed Shark and Pingates, and the results can be dramatic. Simply submit your your site or feed to these services when you update or add new content. Some will even provide code to automatically distribute your feed with each new update, saving you valuable time.
NEGATIVE LINK BUILDING PRACTICES
Although the point is to get as many links to your website as possible circulating on the world wide web, some links may actually hurt your standing with the search engines and discredit your business. Steer clear of link farms - search engines are designed to grade the quality of the website that includes your link. Each link to your web site (i.e., backlink) is considered a "ranked vote" to your site's popularity. This is not to say that establishing reciprocal links with a selective choice of respected businesses is frowned upon. Quite the contrary. A few good links from legitimate, high PR sites are of much greater value than a multitude of spam links from sites of questionable integrity.
STREAMLINE AND TRACK YOUR EFFORTS
Finally, streamline the process by keeping pertinent information at your fingertips such as a single sentence lead in (or several variations) and the complete web address of the page you are linking too. Keep a list of the sites you place a link on, the date posted, and then develop a system to rank the results (how many comments, etc.) so you know where your efforts are best spent. Use your website’s analytics to determine whether you’re seeing increases in search traffic and referring link traffic. Those are the indicators of an effective, well managed link building campaign.
(Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono)