How to Build Links to Your Web Site

by Larry Richman on December 22, 2007

One of the best ways to get your site or blog listed on page one at any search engine is to have a substantial number of inbound and outbound links. So, how do you get those links? First and foremost, make sure your site has useful, interesting, up-to-date content that people will consider link-worthy. Next, set up a blog as part of your site because it is one of the best ways to build both inbound and outbound links. Below are some ways to get inbound links.

How to get people to link to your site

  1. Get found. Find out what phrases people are searching by using a tool like Wordtracker. Then, make sure your pages use those phrases, so people will find you before they find other sites.
  2. Stay current. Make sure your pages contain relevant, informative, and interesting information.
  3. Promote your site. Encourage readers to digg and del.icio.us your articles. This puts links to your site on some very credible news feeds.
  4. Let visitors generate content. Allow comments on articles and blogs.
  5. Make lists. There’s nothing is more link-able than a good list.
  6. Start controversy. That’s right, don’t be afraid to be controversial. As they say,“any press is good press”.

Consider who would benefit from linking to you

  1. Bloggers. A great way to get noticed is to get out into the blogging community and start commenting on other blogs. Most blogging platforms will link to your site when someone clicks on your alias. Many bloggers rely on outside articles to supply their blog with updated, relevant information. Many are a quick “copy & paste” of information with a link to the external source. Even journalistic blogs will cite other blogs as references for their information. Whenever you get an e-mail or a comment from someone on an article you’ve written, make sure you follow up with them. If they are reading your content, they must think you are a reliable resource and this could be the start of a great business relationship.
  2. Business Partners. These could be your blogger friends, your conference networking buddies, old colleagues, but they may also be your competition. It may be easier than you think to form a strategic alliance by finding a way that both will benefit. Many people will link to you if you link to them–even competitors.
  3. Customers. Who better to spread the word about you than your loyal clientele? Offering links in your thank-you e-mails to related articles, and even outwardly asking them to link to you is a great way to invite traffic to your site. Many people will do so if you just ask. Any incoming link helps.
  4. Suppliers. Think about offering testimonials (closing with a link to your site) on the testimonial pages of your dealers. Most organizations can use new testimonials, so a good deed for a good deed is good business. Ask them to list you on their “Partners” page.
  5. Friends. If all else fails, talk to your friends. In the digital age, almost everyone has a blog or is part of some social network. Tell your friends to link to your site in their forum signatures, blogrolls, MySpace and Facebook profiles, and anywhere else they can think of.

How to get bloggers to write about you

This is the epitome of link building. If your list of blogger prospects isn’t large enough, find more at Technorati, Google Blog Search and Ask.com‘s blog search engine. Here are a few ways to get bloggers to notice you and link to your articles:

  1. Contact the blogger. This is a bold move, but if you think that something you’ve written will be of interest to the writer, then by all means, put yourself out there. You can usually find contact details on a bloggers site or contact page. When you contact bloggers, start with a compliment. Talk about how much you enjoy their blog, and do your research beforehand. Make sure you provide them with all the details they need to link to your site. For more tips, check out Ogilvy’s Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics.
  2. Comment on other blogs. This has multiple benefits. If you write genuinely-interesting comments, people will feel inclined to learn more about you. Most blogs link back to your Web site if a user clicks on your comment name. Another benefit is that your comments immediately create backlinks to your site. Don’t leave obvious promotional comments; no one likes reading them.
  3. Ask for a review. If you are product-based, offer relevant bloggers a chance to receive a free product in exchange for their review. Even if they are not an immediate fan, if they blog about your product you still a backlink that others may follow and even find a different product they prefer.

How to get your competitors to write about you

On the Web and in the blogosphere, it may be you have no competitors at all–just potential partners. Find arrangements that are mutually beneficial when it comes to link-building.

  1. Exchange links. A non-threatening place to suggest a link-exchange would be in a blogroll or “partners” area of your competitor’s site. It doesn’t distract their readers but it’s still a valuable placement.
  2. Fill a void. It may be that you have a complimentary article or product on your site that they don’t cover and they may see it as valuable to their readers. Many bloggers rely on other bloggers to fulfill their editorial needs by cutting and pasting, or speed-linking (a post composed completely of links to interesting articles and sites) to fill some white space. Fill that space.

How to get other inbound links to your site

Think about user-generated sites to create your own external inbound links. Use forums, online communities, social bookmarks, and online reviews to create live links to your content.

  1. Social networks. Read more about how to do this in an article about being a social networking evangelist. It includes a link to our “evangelist toolbox” which shows you multiple places to set up shop and create links to your site from multiple domains, including Digg, MySpace, LinkedIn, Technorati and more.
  2. Online Press Releases. If appropriate to your content, consider an online press release, which may generate multiple links to your site from all over the Web. Not only from PR sites themselves, but also from any browsing blogger looking to pick up a story. A list of free and paid resources (as well as a step-by-step how-to) is at Quick guide to distributing press releases online.

How to find out who is linking to your site

  1. Try Yahoo! Site Explorer
  2. See the backlink tool in Google Webmaster Tools
  3. Check out the backlink analyzer Domain Stats Tool
  4. The Firefox browser has a great plugin called “Search Status” that displays Google PageRank, Alexa rank, and Compete ranking anywhere in your browser, along with a fast keyword density analyzer, keyword/nofollow highlighting, backward/related links, Alexa info, and more.

This post was adapted from several articles at Mequoda.

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