This month, SEO Boy has featured a series on SEO Enhancement. Bethany started October with her post on how to improve your keyword research. Rob then wrote a post on tips to improve SEO copywriting, and today, I am going to tackle link building.
There is a lot of information out there on link building and one of the more common ways to build links is to simply ask for them. This is basically like cold calling someone, where you actually email a blog or site, tell them a little bit about your site and ask for a link. This can be incredibly time consuming and if done right, it is a lot of work. In order to get any of those blogs to respond, you need to research their site, find a reason their readers would be interested in your product, and present a well thought out and personalized argument for why they should link to you. Carrie explains the right way to send a link request in her post, How Not To Request A Link.
Today, I’d like to focus on techniques for link building that generally see a higher return on investment and links that are, for the most part, naturally non reciprocal. These are all strategies for building links that we use for many of our SEO clients. But, before we get started, if you don’t already have it installed, take a few minutes and download the Free mozBar from SEO Moz. This tool will come in handy when analyzing a site for its link value as it provides a quick glance of a site’s SEO metrics in addition to easy highlighting of no followed links. Do you have it downloaded? Okay, good! Let’s start with the first strategy, directories…
There are thousands of directories online that categorize and list different sites. Some directories include all products and services, while others, like Market Mommies, focus on one type of industry (in this case it is Mommy bloggers and business owners). The nice thing about these directories is that so many of them are free. Generally, they ask for a description of your product or service, a link, an image, etc., so it’s fairly easy to mass-produce the information that you can then copy and paste into each directory. The downside is that some of the more valuable directories do cost money. Many require only a one-time fee, while others require a yearly fee at a lower price. Yahoo! Directory, Business.com, Best of the Web, and Joeant.com, are a few of the directories that require a fee, but are generally worth the return. In his SEO Boy post, Five Free Directories that Can Provide Quality Links, Joe reviews his favorite free directories that are worth checking out. While all of these are general topic directories, don’t forget about those niche areas like Market Mommies. This is where you can really find a targeted audience for your site!
Writing and distributing a press release is another fairly quick and easy way to gain links. The nice thing about a press release is that once you write one, you can repurpose the same thing or nearly the same thing to multiple PR Directories. Don’t make the information too cookie-cutter though. The more interesting the information is, the more likely someone is going to ‘pick it up’ and spread the news. A few free press release sites to get you started include: Free Press Release, 1888 Press Release, PR Log, and Click Press.
Article or Blog Submissions
Useful articles are not only a great way to attract readers to your site, but they’re also a great way to gain a new audience but sharing your information through article or blog submission sites. Squidoo and Buzzle are two example sites and just like the directories, some of these sites focus on niche areas so you’ll know your hitting your target audience. Don’t worry! You don’t have to maintain a blog to write interesting and relevant articles. You can simply have a section on your site for Articles & Resource and then repurpose the information on other sites. Again, don’t completely copy, as this can lead to issues of duplicate content but why not reuse the information you’ve already written for your site?
I am sure that this title sounds silly. But, the idea comes from a SEOMoz Pro Seminar session on local SEO. If you are a smaller company and you feel like a tiny fish online, don’t forget about your local community. Your story may be similar to thousands of other online startups, but to your local community, you may have something interesting to say. Getting in the local or regional newspaper can be a form of link building. How? Well, most newspapers have an online version and if you’re covered in print, you’re likely to be covered online. Whether or not the article or press release will guarantee a link, I cannot say, but it’s worth a shot at getting one!
The same is true for government and educational sites. Do you have a university in your town? Find ways to partner with them. Sponsor an event or even guest lecture a business course. If you can get your URL linked from a .gov or a .edu, the link value is even greater.
Niche Relationship Building
This is a little more time consuming, but it isn’t as ‘telemarketer-ish’ as cold-emailing blogs to ask for a link. Building a relationship with other companies or bloggers that fit within your niche can be an incredibly rewarding form of link building. Maybe you sell a product that pairs nicely but doesn’t compete with another site. Build a relationship that could lead to future links from your new friend. Or maybe you sell a product that all runners would be interested in. Find forums related to running and join their conversations. Finn’s post on Link Building By Making Friends talks more about this.
Those are some of my golden nuggets on link building. Do you have any others to add?