As a follow up to my recent post 3 Key SEO Success Factors (and prompted by a request), I wanted to provide some additional tips and creative ideas about how to approach link building.
An external link or a backlink is a link that comes from another website to your’s. External linking is a very important part of a a search engine optimization strategy. Many SEO professionals maintain that it’s the most important part of the strategy. First let’s quickly review why they are important.
Why External Linking is Important
- Links to pages on your website are like a ‘vote’ for the page – the link ‘tells’ Google and Bing that your content good enough that it’s worth sharing. ‘Votes’ from websites with high credibility count more and help increase your visibility more than links from sites with no authority.
- Links will drive traffic to your website – the search engines don’t follow all linkswhen they crawl a website, but they still have value. Whether a link was posted on a social platform or on a website, it will drive traffic and that’s what we all want. It’s all about exposure.
- Getting links from sites with high PageRank (or authority) will help increase the PageRank of your site – there’s a concept called link juice, which I like to think about as the way that authority is shared between websites. If a site with a high PageRank links to a page on your site, it will help to increase your authority ranking.
In addition to the link building that happens naturally as a result of your content marketing efforts, link building really boils down to two things: finding places to submit content to or get a link from and relationships. Ok, so let’s talk about strategies.
External Linking Strategies
- Make sure you have content that is worth linking to – I can’t emphasize this enough. If you don’t have content that is engaging and useful, no strategy in the world is going to be effective.
- Write and submit articles to online newspapers and magazines. I’m not taking about article marketing, which is submitting content to article directories (aka content farms), I’m referring to writing good content that a legitimate publication will want to publish.
- Here are a few ideas for finding websites and blogsthat may be looking for the type of content you create. Go to Google and type:
- “looking for writers” “<your keyword phrase>”
- “guest blogger” “<your keyword phrase>”
- “write an article” “<your keyword phrase>”
- “guidelines for contributors” “<your keyword phrase>”
- License your content through Creative Commons and allow others to publish it.
- Go after authoritative sites in your topic area – if you own a hair salon or day spa, links from well known stylists or personal care product suppliers are good targets.
- Industry sites – research industry magazines, see what their linking guidelines are, and submit your link with well-written anchor link text.
- Consider offering a discount to the local colleges; for example, if you own a coffee shop you could create a on-line coupon for the students and faculty, reach out to the webmaster and ask them to post a link to it on the school’s website.
- Create and publish a unique blog post or article about your industry – send the link to the authority site and ask them to post a link to the article on their website.
- Use a tool like Majestic SEO to discover who is linking to your competitors – evaluate the possibilities and connect with the webmasters of the and ask them for a link.
- Social networking – reach out to and form sincere relationships with people in your online community. Be patient and focus on engaging in a way that adds value and is mutually respectful and you’ll find people are more than willing to share your content as well as link to it.
There are many other creative ways to find places that would be good to approach with a request to link to your site. You’ll find a list from A – Z in this great SEOMOZ article about external linking strategies.
It wasn’t an accident that I started the list with content and ended it with relationships. They are the cornerstones of a great link building strategy. Without them, the efforts spent to find external linking sources is a waste of time. The main thing to keep in mind when building external links is that it takes time and it must look and be ‘natural.’ Acquiring links too quickly or from unsavory sites will end up getting you in trouble with the search engines.
Lastly, make sure you’ve started with keyword research and you optimize the anchor text.
Check out the following articles if you’re looking for more information about external links and how to optimize them.
- All Backlinks are Not Created Equal but They All Count
- What Is a Backlink part 2 – Optimizing External Links
Did you get some new ideas? Which tip are you going to try out?